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John and Lorena Bobbitt

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John Wayne Bobbitt (born 1967) and Lorena Bobbitt (née Gallo; born 15 May 1969)[1][2] were an American former couple, married on June 18, 1989,[2][3] whose relationship received international press coverage in 1993 when Lorena severed John's penis with a knife while he was asleep in bed; the penis was successfully surgically reattached. Lorena, an Ecuadorian immigrant, claimed that her husband John, a bar bouncer and former U.S. Marine,[4] had raped and abused her for years. John was charged with rape later that year but was acquitted and, subsequently, starred in two pornographic films. The next year, Lorena was acquitted of assault by reason of insanity and went on to start a foundation for domestic abuse victims and their children.[5] The couple divorced in 1995.


Lorena Bobbit severed her husband John's penis on June 23, 1993 at their home in Manassas, Virginia. Lorena stated in a court hearing that, after coming home that evening, her husband had raped her. After he then went to sleep, she got out of bed and went to the kitchen for a drink of water. She then grabbed an eight-inch Ginsu carving knife on the kitchen counter, returned to their bedroom, pulled back the bed sheets, and cut off his penis.[6][7]

After this, Lorena left the apartment with the severed appendage and drove away in her car. After a length of time driving and struggling to steer with one hand due to holding the penis, she threw the penis out a window into a roadside field on Maplewood Drive.[8] She eventually stopped and called 9-1-1, telling them what she had done and where the penis could be found. John's penis was found after an exhaustive search, and after being washed with antiseptic and packed in saline ice, it was reattached in the hospital where he was treated. The operation took nine and a half hours.[9] John went on to star in two pornographic films in the 1990s,[10] and stated in 2018 that his penis is "back to normal".[11] John also went on to accumulate a record of serious abuse allegations and some criminal convictions.[12]

Arrest and trial[edit]

When Lorena was arrested the night of June 23, she told the police, "He always have orgasm [sic], and he doesn't wait for me ever to have orgasm. He's selfish."[13] This conversation with Detective Peter Weintz was tape-recorded, and the transcript was read later in the trial by Mary Grace O'Brien, the Prince William County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney prosecuting Lorena.[14]

During the trial, the Bobbitts revealed details of their volatile relationship and the events that led to the assault. Lorena stated that John sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her during their marriage, claiming that he had flaunted his infidelities and forced her to have an abortion. Her defense attorneys, who included the defense lawyer Blair D. Howard, maintained that John's constant abuse eventually caused Lorena to "snap" because she was suffering from clinical depression and a possible bout of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the abuse.[6] John denied the allegations of abuse; however, when he was cross-examined by Howard, his statements often conflicted with known facts, severely weakening the prosecution's case.[6]

Lorena testified that John had raped her and physically battered her on multiple occasions prior to the evening of the incident, that they lacked financial stability, and that he stole her earnings and spent the proceeds. Both the prosecution and the defense conceded that John had demonstrated a history of abuse toward his wife and that this abuse created a context for the assault. Expert witnesses for both sides testified that "he had mentally and physically battered her; that the abuse was escalating; and that, by 1993, she lived in constant fear of him."[15] The defense strategy emphasized Lorena's action as being a mix of self-defense and temporary insanity constituting an "irresistible impulse" due to the history and pattern of abuse and rape. One expert witness testified that, "Lorena believed and was immobilized by John's threat, 'I will find you, whether we're divorced or separated. And wherever I find you, I'll have sex with you whenever I want to.'"[16]

John was later acquitted of marital sexual assault by a jury of nine women and three men.[17] He gave multiple versions of what had happened that evening in question, relating at various times to police and to the court that "they had not had sex; that Lorena had tried to initiate sex, but he had been too tired; that they had had sex, but he had slept through it; and that the sex had been consensual."[18]

After seven hours of deliberation, the jury found Lorena not guilty by reason of insanity caused by an irresistible impulse to sexually wound John. As a result, she could not be held liable for her actions.[19] Under state law, the judge ordered Lorena to undergo a 45-day evaluation period at Central State Hospital in Petersburg, after which she would be released. In 1995, after six years of marriage, John and Lorena finalized their divorce.[20]



After the incident, John attempted to generate money from his renown by forming a band, The Severed Parts, to pay his mounting medical and legal bills, although the band was unsuccessful and failed to generate enough money.[citation needed] In September 1994, he appeared in the adult film John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut in another attempt to make money. In 1996, he appeared in another adult film, Frankenpenis (also known as John Wayne Bobbitt's Frankenpenis).[21]

After the attack and acquittal, it was revealed that John was the father of a son, Andrew Williams, born in 1992 to Beatrice Williams of Niagara Falls, New York. She had been in a romantic relationship with John that ended in May 1992. [22] In 1994, John was charged with striking Kristina Elliott, a 21-year-old former exotic dancer he met while in Las Vegas, Nevada on a publicity tour. At the time, Elliot had been engaged to John, but after the event she broke off the engagement. On August 31, 1994, he was convicted of battery and sentenced to fifteen days in jail (75% of the original 60-day sentence was suspended). "I firmly believe you have an attitude problem," Justice of the Peace William Jansen told John. "Your attitude problem is caused by your drinking."[23]

On August 10, 1998,[24] John appeared on the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE)'s Monday Night Raw is War television program, where he was featured with Val Venis.[25][26] Not long after, he moved to Las Vegas and worked as a bartender, limo driver, mover, pizza delivery driver, and tow-truck operator. He also had a stint serving at a wedding chapel as a minister of a local Universal Life Church.[6]

In 1999, John received probation for his role in a theft at a store in Nevada. In 2003, he was sentenced to prison for violating his probation for the 1999 theft, after he was arrested on battery charges involving his then-wife, Joanna Ferrell. He was again twice arrested on charges of battery against Ferrell in 2004, and that same year, he filed for divorce under the name John W. Ferrell, which he had been using during his marriage with Joanna.[27]

In 2014, John was hospitalized in an intensive care unit as a result of a car accident in Buffalo, New York. Bobbitt was not held responsible after an investigation determined the accident was caused by another motorist failing to heed a red light.[28]

In 2024, John said that he had his toes amputated as a result of toxic peripheral polyneuropathy, which he speculated was the result of his exposure to toxic waters at Camp Lejeune when he served there in the 1980s. He said that the amputations alongside developing osteomyelitis had left him unable to work.[29]


After the trial, Lorena attempted to keep a low profile and reverted to the use of her maiden name, Gallo. In October 1996, she visited her native country Ecuador, where she met with then-President Abdalá Bucaram for an official dinner. Some time later the two would baptize a child as a godmother and a godfather.[30] Bucaram was criticized for inviting Lorena to the dinner.[31]

In December 1997, Lorena made news when she was charged with assault for punching her mother, Elvia Gallo, as they watched television.[32] She was eventually acquitted of assault, and her mother continued to live with her. In 2007, she was working at a beauty salon in Washington, D.C.,[33] and, the same year, founded Lorena's Red Wagon organization, which helps prevent domestic violence through family-oriented activities.[34]

In June 2008, Lorena appeared on the CBS News program The Early Show, where she talked about her life since the incident. In the interview, she said that she was in a long-term relationship with a man named Dave Bellinger and that they had a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter.[35]

Joint public appearance[edit]

Although Lorena told Oprah Winfrey in April 2009 that she had no interest in talking to John,[34] they appeared together on the show The Insider in May 2009. It was their first meeting since their divorce.[36] On the show, John apologized to her for the way he treated her during their marriage. John claimed that he still loved her and continued to send her Valentine's Day cards and flowers.[37]

Legacy and depiction in popular culture[edit]

The Bobbitt case brought attention to the issue of domestic violence and marital rape. Within days of the incident, some anti-domestic violence advocates and some feminist groups rallied around Lorena, citing the continuous abuse she suffered at the hands of John that led her to attack him, albeit in an unusual and violent manner.[38]

Media attention surrounding the case resulted in national debate and also sparked a flurry of jokes, limericks, T-shirt slogans, and advertising gimmicks, as well as Howard Stern having John as a guest on his 1993 New Year's Eve special and fundraising $250,000 to defray the outstanding costs of his surgery. MCI had also unknowingly been drawn into the fray by running a television commercial a couple of weeks after the incident, advertising how the Bobbitts—a family from Siaconset, Massachusetts, of no relation to John and Lorena Bobbitt—saved by switching to MCI, causing jokes to be made of "when they cut off your service, they mean it".[39]

Shortly after the incident, episodes of "Bobbittmania", or copycat crimes, were reported, although the incidents were generally self-inflicted wounds or accidents.[40] The names of John and Lorena Bobbitt eventually became synonymous with penis removal. The terms "Bobbittized punishment" and "Bobbitt Procedure" gained social recognition.[41]

After the 1991 Gulf War, the United States Air Force decided to remove the tail gun turrets from all B-52 strategic bombers. Crews started calling the bombers without tail guns "Bobbited".[42]

The bristle worm Eunice aphroditois is informally known as the "Bobbitt Worm" after the case, because it attacks its prey with scissor-like jaws.[43]

Mary Beth Edelson’s life-size monument to Lorena Bobbitt is entitled Kali Bobbitt (1994). It was included in MoMA PS1's 2015 survey show Greater New York. The sculpture reimagines Bobbitt as the warrior goddess Kali, mounted on a ziggurat plinth, adorned with knives, and grasping a severed penis.[44]

"Weird Al" Yankovic's 1994 song "Headline News", a parody of the Crash Test Dummies hit "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm", mentions the Bobbitt incident.[45]

The Canadian hardcore punk band SNFU released a song "Bobbitt" on their 1996 album Fyulaba.

The incident has been referenced in movies and television shows, such as David Fincher's 1999 adaptation of Fight Club and the Coen brothers' 2004 remake of The Ladykillers.

Lyrics from Tech N9ne's 2008 song "Psycho Bitch II" reference the incident "Lorena Bobbitt told her to slice yo' dick, if you ever break up wit' a psycho bitch".

On October 11, 2009, Family Guy referenced the incident in the episode "Spies Reminiscent of Us" during Peter's improv performance. Peter performs an 'impression' of Bobbitt in the same manner as his John Wayne impression, due to the name similarity, before following it up with an impression of John Wayne Gacy in the same manner. Later, on November 10, 2019, the show referenced the incident again in the episode "Peter and Lois' Wedding" where Peter and Lois meet in the 1990s; in the beginning Peter states "it was the decade of Viagra but also the decade of Lorena Bobbitt, so it was a yay-boo period for penises". It was also referenced in the episode "The Lois Quagmire", first airing on February 27, 2022.

In February 2019, Amazon released Lorena, a four-part docu-series produced by Jordan Peele about the incident, which features interviews with both Lorena and John.[46]

On May 25, 2020, Lifetime aired I Was Lorena Bobbitt as part of its "Ripped from the Headlines" feature films. While Lorena serves as the onscreen narrator and executive producer, the film stars Dani Montalvo as Lorena Bobbitt and Luke Humphrey as John Bobbitt.[47][48]

A lyric from Lizzo's 2022 song "Grrrls" is "I'ma go Lorena Bobbitt on him so he never fuck again, no-oh, oh".

John is given a brief mention during the Fall Out Boy cover of "We Didn't Start the Fire" in 2023, as part of the "updated" list of events used in the lyrics.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The moment John Bobbitt realized his wife had cut off his penis: 'It was a nightmare'". ABC News.
  2. ^ a b "The True Story of John and Lorena Bobbitt". Inside Edition. February 14, 2019. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  3. ^ Tousignant, Marylou; Miller, Bill (January 13, 1994). "LORENA BOBBITT DETAILS DEMISE OF MARRIAGE". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  4. ^ Odum, Maria E. (January 7, 1994). "MARINE RECORDS ON ABUSE MAY FIGURE IN BOBBITT TRIAL". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  5. ^ Effron, Lauren; Dooley, Sean. "John Bobbitt speaks out 25 years after wife infamously cut off his penis: 'I want people to understand… the whole story'". ABC News. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d Bell, Rachael. "Crimes Below the Belt: Penile Removal and Castration (Chapter 2)". Crime Library. Archived from the original on October 5, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  7. ^ Simon, Roger (January 12, 1994). "Was Lorena Bobbitt's act 'an irresistible impulse?'". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  8. ^ Chozick, Amy (January 30, 2019). "You Know the Lorena Bobbitt Story. But Not All of It". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 25, 2023.
  9. ^ Achenbach, Joel (October 7, 1993). "A Stitch in Time:'My Wife Cut Me' John Bobbitt Said. For Two Doctors, It Was a Night To Remember". Retrieved December 14, 2009.
  10. ^ Anolik, Lili (June 28, 2018). "The Lorena Bobbitt Case at 25: Why She's Moved on and John Wayne Hasn't". Vanity Fair. New York City: Conde Nast. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  11. ^ "John Wayne Bobbitt Says His Penis Has 'Been Through the Wringer' In New ABC Special". toofab.com. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "Maligned Women | On the Media". WNYC Studios. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  13. ^ Smolowe, Jill; Peterzell, Jay (November 22, 1993). "TIME Magazine-Swift Sword of Justice". Time. Retrieved June 23, 2010.
  14. ^ Wife cannot recall cutting off man's penis in January 14, 1994 New Straits Times
  15. ^ Pershing, Linda (2011). ""His Wife Seized His Prize and Cut It to Size": Folk and Popular Commentary on Lorena Bobbitt". In Catano, James V.; Novak, Daniel A. (eds.). Masculinity Lessons: Rethinking Men's and Women's Studies. p. 201.
  16. ^ (Pershing, page 206)
  17. ^ "Husband Acquitted of Assault in Mutilation Case". New York Times. November 11, 1993. Retrieved January 22, 2022. Mr. Bobbitt was charged with marital sexual assault because under Virginia law rape applies only to couples living apart or if the victim is seriously physically injured.
  18. ^ (Pershing, p. 186)
  19. ^ Virginia Vs. Lorena Bobbitt, Court TV. Courttv.com. Retrieved on October 14, 2012. Archived January 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Marisa M. Kashino (June 27, 2018). "The Definitive Oral History of the Bobbitt Case, 25 Years Later". Washingtonian. Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  21. ^ Joyce Chen (February 16, 2019). "Fine, We Can (Briefly) Talk About John Wayne Bobbitt's Porn Career". Refinery29. Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  22. ^ https://www.deseret.com/1995/5/5/19173618/bobbitt-forks-out-funds-to-see-his-2-year-old-son/
  23. ^ "Jail for John Bobbitt". The New York Times. September 1, 1994. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  24. ^ "Raw is War: August 10, 1998". The Other Arena. Archived from the original on October 26, 2006. Retrieved March 31, 2008.
  25. ^ Reynolds, R.D. (2003). Wrestlecrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling. Toronto, Ontario: ECW Press. pp. 222–223. ISBN 1-55022-584-7.
  26. ^ "Wrestlecrap: The Val Venis Castration". wrestlecrap.com.[dead link]
    later referenced in Past Inductions Archived February 17, 2013, at archive.today
  27. ^ "John Wayne Bobbitt faces new battery charges". USA Today. September 22, 2005. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  28. ^ Bucktin, Christopher (November 13, 2014). "John Wayne Bobbitt breaks neck in car smash after driver jumps red light". Mirror Online. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  29. ^ "John Wayne Bobbitt, Whose Wife Famously Chopped Off His Penis, Has Toes Amputated Due to Contaminated Water". Peoplemag. Retrieved April 15, 2024.
  30. ^ "Bobbitt Meets President". South Florida Sun Sentinel. October 18, 1996. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  31. ^ "Ecuadoreans take to the street against 'The Crazy One'". CNN. February 6, 1997. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  32. ^ "Bobbitt's Ex-Wife Charged in Assault". The New York Times. December 8, 1997. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  33. ^ Biography.com. "Lorena Bobbitt Biography". Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  34. ^ a b "Lorena Bobbitt's Unforgettable Story". Oprah.com.
  35. ^ "Lorena Bobbitt, 15 Years Later". CBS News. June 25, 2008. Archived from the original on December 25, 2018. Retrieved July 28, 2008.
  36. ^ "John & Lorena: The Shocking Bobbitt Reunion at The Insider". Archived from the original on July 14, 2009.
  37. ^ "John Bobbitt still loves Lorena 16 years after she hacked off his penis". ANI. May 5, 2009. Archived from the original on February 19, 2010.
  38. ^ "Battle of Sexes Joined in Case Of a Mutilation". The New York Times. November 8, 1993. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  39. ^ Newsweek January 2, 1994 "He, She and the Celebrity".
  40. ^ Gumbel, Andrew. "Bobbittmania takes a grip on psyche of Latin lover". Archived from the original on October 21, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  41. ^ Husain, M.; Rizvi, S.J.; Usmani, J.A. "A Critical Review of Post-phase Period of Lorena Bobbitt's Indictment". Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  42. ^ Goebel, Greg (2015). Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. Amazon Kindle Direct.
  43. ^ Debelius, Helmut (2001). Asia Pacific Reef Guide: Malaysia, Indonesia, Palau, Philippines, Tropical Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand. IKAN. p. 305. ISBN 9783925919565.
  44. ^ "Greater New York – MoMA". www.moma.org. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  45. ^ "Headline News by Weird Al Yankovic". Songfacts.
  46. ^ Blistein, Jon (January 8, 2019). "New Doc Tells Different Side of 1993 Lorena Bobbitt Scandal". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  47. ^ Snierson, Dan (April 13, 2020). "I Was Lorena Bobbitt: See first photos from Lifetime movie". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  48. ^ Megan Sunday, "'I Was Lorena Bobbitt' lets Bobbitt tell her side of the story". The Spool, May 27, 2020.

External links[edit]