In 1993, an Ecuadorian manicurist named Lorena Bobbitt watched as her personal tragedy became a national joke: Bobbitt had become a macabre household name after a bloody domestic dispute resulted in her cutting off her husband's penis. As the year rolled on, audiences of the violent drama would later learn that behind what seemed like a comedic scene was a tale of real tragedy: in court, Lorena claimed that she had been raped and abused by her husband prior to the unplanned penectomy, and that what was perceived as an attack was actually done in self defense.
John, Lorena's husband, told various inconsistent versions of the events, according to scholar Linda Pershing in her article titled "His Wife Seized His Prize and Cut It to Size." Sometimes he claimed that Lorena had resisted sex, sometimes he said he had slept through the sex, sometimes he said that the sex was consensual, and sometimes he said that they hadn't even engaged in intercourse that night. The jury believed at least one of his narratives.
John was ultimately acquitted of rape and later had his penis surgically re-attached.
Lorena would also go on to be acquitted on the grounds of temporary insanity.
What had happened leading up to Lorena's notorious crime and what's she been up to since?
Before the assault
During the trial, Lorena painted a particularly devastating picture of life with her husband John. She claimed that John had repeatedly abused her — sexually, physically, and emotionally. She also stated that he would regularly brag about his extramarital affairs and forced her to have an abortion. Both the defense and prosectuors ackowledged the history of abuse that led to such an extreme action.
Lorena had worked as a manicurist in Manassas, Virginia. She was 24 years old when the notorious assault went down.
In 1997 Lorena was charged with assault after attacking her mother while watching TV. According to the New York Times, Lorena's mother suffered minor injuries from the incident. Lorena potentially faced up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines. She was eventually found not guilty.
Dating and moving on
In interviews two decades after the trial, Lorena admitted that dating after her divorce was shockingly not as difficult as one would imagine.
"Believe it or not, I had quite a few gentlemen that wanted to date me," she told NBC4, smiling. She said that she has found a great group of friends that "don't judge anybody [and] don't judge me." She's also stopped using the last name Bobbitt and prefers her maiden name, Gallo.
Bobbitt does, however, continue to use her last name while working for a variety of charities, including women's shelters. "I use that name, the Lorena Bobbitt name, to help others," she said. "Something good has to come out of this tragedy like mine."
She also founded the Lorena Gallo Foundation: "The primary function of the organization is to try to prevent domestic violence through family oriented activities," says the org's Facebook page.
"All the jokes, it hurt at first," Lorena said while speaking with The Huffington Post. "Now, I don’t care. I laugh, too."
She's since settled down with her longtime partner Dave Bellinger.
What happened to John?
John became a niche fascination after having his penis surgically re-attached. He briefly entered the adult entertainment world and has talked extensively about his sexual habits after garnering infamy.
"The doctors told me I would never be able to have sex again because my injuries were so bad," Bobbitt told Britain's The Sun newspaper. "But I've proved them wrong time and time again. I believe I've slept with 70 women since the incident ... Being the most famous man to have his penis chopped off does have its advantages. It definitely has not hurt my love life - in fact it improved it ... Obviously, I would have preferred not to go through all that pain and suffering. But being famous for my penis has given me opportunities I could not have ever imagined."
Lorena in 2019
Lorena now lives with a partner, David Bellinger, and although the two have been together for 13 years they were never officially wed. The two have a 13-year-old daughter.
“I believe in marriage as an institution, of course, and I respect that," she recently said to USA Today. "It was my choice. He even says, 'If you’re ready to marry, I’ll just show up!'"
Lorena's life nowadays is otherwise suburban: she maintains a meditation practice and prays regularly while maintaining a sense of humor about her past. She remains perplexed as to why John Bobbitt continues to reach out to her over social media.
"It’s all that, but it’s about control," she said. "And that’s John. John tries to control me even now. Trying to be my friend on Facebook? How can I explain? The man needs help.”
Writers like Vanity Fair's Lili Anolik have re-thought Lorena's situation in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
"You probably think of the principal players as either symbols or laughingstocks—she a personification of female victimization or a psycho bitch, he the living incarnation of male brutality or the poster boy for unlucky in love. The truth is, as always, considerably more complicated. Understand these two as caricatures and as people and you will begin to grasp the range and possibilities of American life in 2018," Anolik wrote in June.
Similarly, the circumstances surrounding Lorena's case is being reconsidered with newfound seriousness. According to ABC, acclaimed horror director Jordan Peele is set to produce a six-part series simply titled "Lorena" about the eponymous protagonist's trials and tribulations.
"When we hear the name 'Bobbitt,' we think of one of the most sensational incidents to ever be catapulted into a full-blown media spectacle," Peele said in a statement about the project, which will be created for Amazon's streaming service, earlier this year. "With this project, Lorena has a platform to tell her truth as well as engage in a critical conversation about gender dynamics, abuse and her demand for justice. This is Lorena's story, and we're honored to help her tell it."
"Lorena" debuts on Amazon Prime on February 15, 2019.
[Photo: Screenshot From YouTube]
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