The name Lorena Bobbitt might not ring a bell for younger generations, but many out there remember her infamous story – the story of a housewife who had enough of her husband’s abuse and retaliated by cutting off his penis and throwing it into a field.
CREDIT: During the Trial of Lorena Bobbitt. Credit: Jeffrey Markowitz/Sygma
The incident and resulting trial shocked and enraptured the entire country, and turned Bobbitt into a folk hero for battered women and her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, into a porn star. Seriously. Twenty-four years later, here is the story of Lorena Bobbitt.
Lorena Gallo was born in Ecuador, and raised in Venezuela. In 1989, the 20-year-old immigrant became Lorena Bobbitt after marrying John Wayne. The couple lived in Manassas, Virginia, where she worked at a nail salon. The marriage, however, was anything but bliss. During court proceedings, Lorena recounted various incidents of abuse, rape and physical violence at the hands of her husband, as well as verbal abuse and insults, calling her a “Spanish whore.”
She claimed that the repeated abuse and spousal rape she suffered from her husband led her to take matters into her own hands, just a few days before their fourth anniversary.
In the middle of the night on June 23, 1993, a drunk John Wayne came home and raped Lorena, according to her testimony. He denied her claim and was later acquitted of that charge in a separate trial.
“I remember I was sleeping, and definitely, he jumped onto me,” she told Oprah back in 2009. “After that, it was just like a tunnel going through my mind.”
Once he passed out, Lorena went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, went back to the bedroom and chopped off John Wayne’s penis at the base. She then took off in her car, taking the penis with her and leaving John Wayne screaming and bleeding. She drove for hours, eventually throwing the penis out of the window onto a field.
“I looked down and there was blood everywhere,” John Wayne recalled in an episode of the show “Scandal Made Me Famous.” “It was a devastating thing to happen to you suddenly. Suicide seemed like the only answer.”
Later that day, she called 9-1-1 to alert them of them incident. It took hours for police officers and a search crew to find John Wayne’s penis. Once they did, surgeons were able to re-attach it to his body in a grueling 10-hour surgery.
The ensuing trial and all its salacious details became major tabloid fodder, and Lorena inadvertently became a figure in the feminist movement. Though some people weren’t happy with that notion.
When the jury came back after deliberations, Lorena was acquitted of all charges by reason of temporary insanity. The jurors believed Lorena suffered an “irresistible impulse” to cut off her husband’s penis as a result of the abuse she endured. The LA Times reported at the time that when the jury read the verdict, Lorena looked at her lawyer and asked “Is that good?” She was held for psychological observation but later released, and went back to work as a manicurist.
Lorena has lived a relatively quiet life. She eventually became a real estate agent and started Lorena’s Red Wagon/ Lorena Gallo Foundation, a charity that aids victims of domestic abuse. Today, Lorena lives with her daughter and longtime partner in Virginia.
John Wayne, on the other hand, used his newfound fame and notoriety to explore other career choices.
CREDIT: Credit: Paradise Visuals
He started a band called The Severed Parts and went on to star in a few porno movies, including “John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut” and “Frankenpenis.” Yes. “Frankenpenis.” He’s regularly appeared on TV and radio as well, and claims to have slept with more than 70 women since the incident. He is now a devout Christian and says he holds no ill will toward his former wife.
Last year, Lorena appeared on The Steve Harvey Show, and was met with major applause and she came to the stage. She’s made the rounds on a few other talk and news shows to discuss the infamous story that captivated America.
CREDIT: During Lorena’s appearance on “Katie.” Credit: Katie/ABC
“I found myself in the street with a penis in one hand and the knife in the other,” she told Harvey while appearing on his show. “I’m here to tell you and to tell everyone what happens when a woman gets abused by a man.”
The trial helped create a national dialogue on domestic abuse, and paved the way for the Violence Against Women Act.