It’s been 25 years since Lorena Bobbitt used a kitchen knife to slice off her husband’s manhood.
In June 1993, Lorena turned herself in after severing John Wayne’s penis after he allegedly raped her at their home in Manassas, Virginia.
She drove off with the severed part of the organ before throwing it into a field and calling the police to tell them what she had done.
The then 23-year-old manicurist was catapaulted into the spotlight as the resulting court case transfixed the world.
In a media firestorm, Lorena was charged with malicious wounding and after an eight-day courtroom drama, she was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. She spent five weeks in a mental health institution.
In his own court case, John was acquitted of rape after insisting he was never violent in the couple’s relationship.
In 1995 the Bobbitts divorced after five years of marriage.
John’s penis was successfully reattached, he had a penis enlargement and went on to star in adult porn movies.
Unsurprisingly, this couple’s remarkable story has become one of the most talked about cases ever. Now, a quarter of a century on, Lorena claims her ex has tried to contact her through social media.
‘I was surprised when John sent me a Facebook friend request,’ Lorena, now 47, tells New Idea in an exclusive interview from Virginia.
‘I honestly couldn’t believe he would think I would want to see him again. Although I know that I will never be able to fully let go of the past because it follows me around, I was not going to let him and his negativity into my life again. I have no desire to see him or speak to him. So I denied his friend request. It was an easy decision.’
According to Lorena, on the night she committed the shock act, John had come home drunk and attacked her.
‘He jumped on me and he started grabbing my arms really tight,’ she recalls. ‘I said “I don’t want to have sex” and he forced me... I was fighting but he wouldn’t listen.’
After the alleged rape, she went to the kitchen for a glass of water, picked up a kitchen knife and went to the room where John was sleeping.
‘I was bleeding to death. It was one of the most terrifying things I ever went through,’ John recalled about what happened next, in a 2009 interview, during which he apologised to Lorena for how he treated her during the marriage.
Since then, Lorena has been committed to creating a new life.
‘I can never escape what I did but I can’t regret what happened either,’ she tells New Idea. ‘How is it possible to regret something you had no control over? I was certified to be temporarily insane. To get to this point, I had endured years of abuse with John. I was the victim – not him – and in the circumstances I did what I had to do to get out of that situation. If I hadn’t been so naive I would have got out sooner – well before it escalated to that point.
‘When I met John he was a handsome marine and I fell head over heels for him. It wasn’t until after we married that I found out his true colours, but by then, I was trapped and I didn’t know where to get help, so I stayed until I couldn’t take it anymore.
‘I believe everything happens for a reason and even though it was wrong, cutting off his penis did free me.’
In 1997, Lorena joined a college class and made friends with a fellow student called David Bellinger.
‘I thought he would know who I was but he never asked me,’ Lorena recalls. ‘We became close friends first and we studied together all the time. It wasn’t love at first sight like with John – it was a deep love and trust that grew over time.’
The couple went on to have a daughter, Olivia.
‘We were committed and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I also wanted a child – a family was all I ever wanted with John Wayne – so when I fell pregnant I was overjoyed,’ she explains. Now, marriage could be on the cards.
‘We have been together now for 21 years, and we aren’t married, but I feel that we will [be] soon,’ Lorena reveals.
‘The time has just never been quite right, but to be honest, we don’t need a piece of paper – we are married in every sense of the word.
‘David and I have a lot of mutual love and respect for each other, something our daughter sees. My dearest hope is that we are teaching her what a good relationship is so that when she grows up, she will not be a victim of abuse like I was.’
Lorena’s story pushed the issue of domestic violence into the spotlight. As part of her own healing, she established a charity to help women in abusive relationships called the Lorena Gallo Foundation.
For more information on Lorena’s foundation visit www.facebook.com/lorenasredwagon.
‘This foundation has turned a tragedy into something good,’ says Lorena. ‘It was something I was meant to do. I’ve used my name Bobbitt in the past to get attention and raise awareness for this important issue.
‘I give talks all the time about my own experiences as a survivor. I wish that I had known of an organisation I could have turned to when I was in this situation, but I didn’t know how or where to get help from.’
It’s clear Lorena’s life has come a long way since that infamous act of her past.
‘I am proof that you can pick up the pieces and carry on – I want other women to learn from me and my mistakes. I don’t care about John Wayne Bobbitt and I will make sure I never see him again,’ Lorena says. ‘He’s from my past and I have so much to be thankful for now.’
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea, on sale now.