Amanda Knox has opened up about her experiences of love in prison in a new essay called, “What Romance in Prison Actually Looks Like”.
Discussing both the relationships she observed during her four years behind bars from 2007-2011, as well as an “almost-friendship” that she herself entered into, Knox described how incarceration can be a huge driving force for partnership – and how the bonds formed are rarely about sex.
“There's every shade of human sexuality in prison, but sexual activity isn't a necessary or defining part of the romantic partnership,” she wrote in Broadly.
“Relationships in prison are sometimes about sex, but more often they're about human connection. Because prison is an awful place: It is designed to deny people of their desire to connect.”
The 29-year-old, from Seattle, made global headlines when she and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were found guilty – and later acquitted – for the murder of her housemate, 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher, in Italy in 2007.
The long-running case gripped the world and Knox became a particular source of fascination for the tabloid media, who dubbed her “Foxy Knoxy”. She still maintains her innocence and insists the police bullied her into a false confession.
And stating in the essay that she was singled out as the “famous one” in prison, Knox described how she mainly kept to herself to avoid forming relationships with other inmates.
“I spent my first eight months in isolation, and after that, prison staff steered visiting politicians to my cell door to show me off. My fellow prisoners resented me for all the attention I received,” she wrote.
“I was on the news almost every day, I received copious mail, my family visited often, and I was always able to afford basic commissary.”
In this way, Knox eschewed the prison tradition she describes as “gay for the stay”, in which heterosexual women form relationships with other women largely as a coping strategy.
“Prison is an isolating place. You're forcibly removed from your homes and support network… But relationships help keep us sane, even if they're forbidden or not ideal,” she added.
However, Knox did form an “almost-friendship” with one woman in prison called Leny (her name was changed to maintain her anonymity), who was imprisoned for being a drug dealer.
Describing how their friendship developed as they ran laps together in the prison yard, Knox wrote, “I was caught between defensiveness and loneliness. Leny didn't demand that I give her the "real scoop" about my case, or the clothes off my back, or ask me to buy her cigarettes. At first, she didn't demand anything.”
However, it soon became clear to Knox that Leny wanted more than a friendship, with her telling Knox that “she had changed women before". Knox then described a moment when Leny kissed her, and how this ultimately led to the end of their friendship.
“I gritted my teeth and half-smiled, wavering between embarrassment and anger,” she wrote.
“Leny didn't know what it felt like to have her past, present, and future stolen – not like I did.”
You can read Amanda Knox’s full essay for Broadly here.