Lorena Bobbitt Believes the World Is Ready to Take Her Seriously
The domestic violence advocate talks about executive producing the new Lifetime movie I Was Lorena Bobbitt.
After last year's hit Amazon Prime docuseries, Lorena Bobbitt is telling her story once more in the new Lifetime movie I Was Lorena Bobbitt. Bobbitt — who now uses her birth name, Lorena Gallo — narrates the movie and served as an executive producer on the project. "I got involved with this particular movie because for many years many people have asked me to tell my story," Gallo tells People CHICA. "But so many sources and so many filmmakers were actually more focused on my husband's penis being cut off instead of the root of the evil, which was domestic violence and sexual assault. Lifetime gave me an opportunity to tell my story through a survivor’s lens, through a victim's lens."
Lorena became a household name in 1993, when she cut off then-husband John Bobbitt's penis with a kitchen knife. She was arrested and charged with malicious wounding, but a jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity. Lorena claimed that John abused her throughout their marriage; he was simultaneously charged with raping her on the night of the incident but was acquitted. The couple divorced in 1995.
At the time of the trial, the name "Lorena Bobbitt" became a punch line, but in the nearly 30 years since, Gallo has become a fierce advocate for victims of domestic violence, and her story has become a prime example of how not to talk about survivors. "People have grown to be more sensitive about serious social epidemics like domestic violence and sexual assault," Gallo explains. "Also, the #MeToo movement helped to open up the conversation, and more victims of domestic violence and sexual harassment have opened up the conversation on social media. ... People are getting it now."
Unlike the docuseries Lorena, which pointedly featured interviews with both John and Lorena, the new movie focuses only on Lorena's perspective as a young woman afraid for her life. Actress Dani Montalvo portrays Lorena from the time she met John through the time of the trial, and spent time with Lorena while preparing for the role. "When you look into her eyes she glows," Montalvo told CHICA of Gallo. "She has this beautiful smile and you can just see it — you can see the transformation."
As an executive producer, Lorena was happy to spend time on set learning from the cast and crew, but admitted that watching her life literally flash before her eyes was at times difficult. "It was very hard to see," she says. "It is always hard to revisit things like this — very, very difficult. But I understand that my past has allowed me to become the person that I am today, and that I have become stronger because of [it]. ... It teaches me that I have the strength to go on."
In 2018, Lorena founded the Lorena Gallo Foundation, which aims to help victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault by providing resources and education about the issues. "My main goal is to be able to open an emergency shelter and provide immediate assistance, such as housing, food, clothing, and also provide a safe environment for people looking to escape abusive situations," says Gallo, who's now thinking about how to help those suffering from abuse during the coronavirus pandemic. "It is important to keep domestic violence and sexual assault at the forefront, especially now, because one of the very unfortunate results of the coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented rise in domestic abuse," she says. "Many victims and survivors feel that they’re stuck at home with their abusers — shelters are closed. They have no place to go right now. As a survivor of domestic violence myself, I understand firsthand about these issues, and I want to help victims by providing resources and guidance."
I Was Lorena Bobbitt airs Monday, May 25 on Lifetime at 8 p.m. ET. Watch the trailer below.