2019's Amazon docu-series Lorena examines how American culture responded to the case of Lorena Bobbitt, a woman who mutilated her husband's penis back in 1993. Viewers are a quarter-century removed from the case that turned her into a household name, but Lorena is using her past to try and speak out against a problem that is all too common. In 2019, Lorena Bobbitt, who now uses her maiden name Gallo, has become an advocate for domestic abuse victims, and the release of the Lorena doc will likely invite others into the conversation and cause people to reconsider what they thought they knew about the case.
In 2008, Gallo formed the Lorena Gallo Foundation which is dedicated to providing support to victims of domestic abuse. This includes donating toys to shelters, sponsoring food drives, and speaking with women and children who have survived domestic abuse or familial neglect. Gallo told Time Magazine that part of her work also involves going to colleges educating people about what to look for when determining if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, and speaking at symposiums at law schools.
"The law needs to be tightened a lot more to protect women, to protect the victim," she told Time, "There need to be more convictions for abusers. We have to have a background check on who can own guns. There are still a lot of loopholes that need to be closed. "
Gallo's efforts to speak out against domestic violence have defined most of her public appearances in the past decade, but she's also shared details about her family life. She told USA Today that she's been in a long term relationship with her partner, David Bellinger, and they have a 13-year-old daughter together. Although she says that she's made a choice to not remarry, the family is as close as ever. Gallo said that her family was with her when the Amazon doc screened at the Sundance Film Festival this month. At first, she was worried that her daughter had seen too much of the series. But afterwards, she recounted, "when we got into the hotel room, she told me, ‘Mom, I didn’t realize how strong you were.’ I melt(ed). My heart just — she disarmed me completely.”
Others are inspired by her, too. Adam Smith, a server at a restaurant in Bobbitt's town of Gainesville, Virginia, told Inside Nova, a local Virgina news outlet, "It’s so inspiring to know what she has experienced, and has turned that experience into avocation. Too often you see victims of domestic violence display the protective behaviors they had to adapt in order to avoid provocation, even once the violence has stopped."
While Lorena has thrust Gallo into the public spotlight, most of the work she does in 2019 won't be seen by the world at large. Gallo explained to Inside Novathat "Only a small portion of the work I do [with the Lorena Gallo Foundation] makes it to social media, and that’s for a lot of families’/victims’ privacy." While most of her charitable efforts stay private, her work to help others and give people the tools to recognize and protect themselves from domestic violence show that she is so much more than the events that made her "famous."
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.