Female prison inmate recounts cycle of abuse

Apologizes to family for role she played in manslaughter

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – After a woman was allegedly shot by her boyfriend earlier this week and later spoke of her ordeal while in hospital, fresh criticisms of abuse were sparked on social media and amongst activist groups who decry violence against women.

But yesterday, Eyewitness News Online took a deeper look at how violence in a relationship may escalate, especially if someone is being abused.

As for 31-year-old Katriona Gilbert, an abusive relationship is what led her to be sentenced to 18 years behind bars at The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services, after she was charged with the murder of Ariel Lowe, a former lover.

Gilbert along with several inmates shared their candid stories with Eyewitness News reporters last year and some were featured in the “Sentenced to Suffer” documentary. However, Gilbert’s story was never aired until yesterday and she gave viewers a raw account of how abuse in a relationship can be cyclical.

Gilbert described her three-year relationship with the late 21-year-old Ariel Lowe as “volatile but loving”.

The same-sex couple lived together with their three children from previous relationships, until Sunday, February 23, 2015, when Gilbert told Eyewitness News that in a jealous rage she strangled the young mother to death, before setting the home they shared on fire.

A year later, in 2016, Gilbert pleaded guilty to manslaughter and arson and was given an 18-year sentence.

Days after Lowe’s murder, a video went viral on social media which showed Ariel, the deceased, being abused by a woman whom persons alleged was Gilbert.

During the prison interview, Gilbert admitted that after being physically abused by nearly every man she had a relationship with, she assumed becoming a lesbian would end her cycle of violence.

“It started with me. I was in an abusive relationship with my last daughter’s father and when I told the police, nothing would happen,” she recalled.

“Nothing ever came out of it and at one point he poured gas on me and my children, so I have been fighting forever.

“Whenever there is an argument I feel like I have to defend myself and my children, the least little thing you do to me, I would fight.

“I thought things would have gotten better when I switched sides because broken crayons still colour, but all I did was continue to carry my baggage. I was no use to anyone because I did not fix myself.”

Gilbert shared this advice for anyone who may be involved in an abusive relationship: “Walk away, as a matter of fact, run, get out,” she warned.

“Mothers, love your daughters, fathers teach your sons. It is not worth it. Abuse is not the answer. Please listen to me, you do not want to end up in jail. Do not make this mistake.”

Meanwhile, Gilbert said she was ashamed and deeply sorry about murdering Ariel Lowe, and it is her hope that the family would forgive her.

“They have not talked to me, they refuse to see me but I want them to know that I am sorry and I regret what I did and I just want to apologize to them,” she said.

“I regret taking her away from her daughter.”

Gilbert is expected to be released from the department of corrections in 2032.

Upon her release, she will be 45 years old.