Even if you don’t know the specifics about the 1993 assault case of John and Lorena Bobbitt, you probably know that she cut his penis off and threw it into a field. That’s all that most people know thanks to the sensationalized media circus that followed. But Academy Award-winning director Jordan Peele (Get Out) is looking to educate the public about the years of escalating domestic abuse Lorena endured before the assault, and he’ll do so in an upcoming docu-series bearing her name.
The series, entitled Lorena, will tell her side of the story, as Peele explained in a recent press release:
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. 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.
The Lorena docu-series has been greenlit by Amazon Studios and will likely appear on the 25th anniversary of the case (sometime this fall or early 2019). Peele will serve as executive producer and 35-year-old Joshua Rofé will direct.
Lorena Bobbitt became a national punchline, but her story was heartbreakingly serious
After castrating her husband, Lorena realized the severity of her actions and called police. After an extensive search, John’s penis was found and surgically reattached. This being America, John had to pay for his own surgery and, in a 1993 New Year’s Eve special, shock jockey Howard Stern help John fundraise $250,000 to cover the expenses.
John’s castration became a national joke with schlocky merchandise, TV show punchlines, radio gags and even a reference in the 1999 movie Fight Club. By September 1994, he appeared in the adult film John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut and another one in 1996 entitled Frankenpenis.
Nevertheless, it came out during the ensuing trial that Lorena lived in constant fear of John since their 1989 wedding. She claimed that he flaunted his infidelities, spent her money, regularly beat and raped her, forced her to have an abortion and threatened to continue raping her even if she divorced him or moved far away.
What happened to Lorena Bobbitt after the trial
Her lawyers successfully helped her avoid jail time by representing her assault as a mix of self-defense and temporary insanity caused by severe ongoing depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and his raping her earlier that night. Though she wasn’t found liable for her actions, the judge had Lorena undergo a 45-day evaluation period at a state hospital.
She was alternately championed by feminists who hoped to draw attention to domestic abuse and reviled by those who saw her act as sadistic.
Though John was acquitted of rape, claiming that he thought their sex on the night of the assault had been consensual, he still apologized to her for his mistreatment when the two appeared on the TV show The Insider on May 2009. During the show, he also revealed that he continued to send Lorena cards and flowers every Valentine’s Day even though she had already given birth to a daughter with a man she was in a long-term relationship with.