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Lorena Bobbitt's personal nightmare became an object of international intrigue in the early 1990s. Lorena, an Ecuadorian manicurist, claimed she had survived years of abuse at the hands of her husband, John Bobbitt, until she finally snapped in 1993 and cut off her spouse's penis with a kitchen knife (it was later surgically reattached).
The sensational trial, in which she was ultimately found not guilty due to temporary insanity, would transfix the world and turn Lorena into a punchline. But life for Lorena now has changed drastically since those days. For starters, she's found love again and a career she's passionate about. Lorena (who now uses the last name Gallo) is now the subject of an Amazon docu-series "Lorena" that re-evaluates the cultural context of her ordeal, changing the conversation around her story.
Here's what to know about what Lorena is up to in 2019 — and what she thinks about the infamous incident now.
Lorena works to help domestic violence victims.
Long after the dust had settled on the raucous trial, Lorena 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. Lorena continues to be an advocate for domestic violence victims through her charity work and by speaking out publicly about her alleged ordeal. She's spoken about the complexities of domestic abuse on various television shows, including an interview with Oprah in 2009, a year after establishing her foundation.
Lorena has been outspoken about not considering herself a celebrity, despite having garnered a certain kind of fame through the infamous trial. “The media was focusing only on the penis, the sensationalistic, the scandalous," she told Vanity Fair in 2018. "But I wanted to shine the light on this issue of spousal abuse. When I went to Knoxville [to speak at a symposium for Lincoln Memorial University’s law review], the president of the school introduced me as a celebrity. I said, ‘Thank you, but let me correct you. I am not a celebrity, I am an advocate.’”
She's found love with David Bellinger.
Lorena now lives with a partner, David Bellinger. Although the two have been together for 13 years, they've never officially wed. Together, they raised a 13-year-old daughter named Olivia.
“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 practices meditation and prays regularly while doing her best to maintain a sense of humor about her past. She remains perplexed as to why John continues to reach out to her over social media.
"[I]t’s about control," she told USA Today. "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.”
Her story is being reconsidered in a more thoughtful light.
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.
Writers aren't the only ones changing their tune about Lorena: Acclaimed comedian and horror director Jordan Peele has produced a four-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 was created for Amazon's streaming service. "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."
Joshua Rofe, director of the new docu-series, concurred with Peele.
“If Lorena had slit his throat ear to ear we would never heard her name,” said Rofe to USA Today. “She cut his penis off and guys couldn’t deal. Castration anxiety is a real thing that really set in.”
Lorena herself also believes her story deserves a second look, considering the changing cultural climate around the subject of intimate partner violence.
“I wanted to show society how important it is to know what happened in the eyes of the victims,” she said. “It was really traumatizing. Psychologically, it was overwhelming to handle it. I was not only abused by my husband but yes, I was abused by the media and in general... So I wanted to show that. But I also wanted to show how a perpetrator can be brutally aggressive.”
"Lorena" debuted on Amazon Prime on February 15, 2019.
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