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   Ten years ago, on January 10, 1994, Lorena Bobbitt went on trial for the “malicious wounding” of her husband’s manhood with an eight-inch kitchen knife. After an eleven day trial, she was acquitted on grounds of temporary insanity.
    On the tenth anniversary of this internationally watched trial, the Elliot Institute is releasing a special report on the case, entitled “The John and Lorena Bobbitt Mystery, Unraveled” that reveals surprising new information on the case. The 14,000-word report goes beyond the standard explanation of an abused wife striking back at her husband. This in-depth analysis offer a detailed account of why the attack happened on that particular night; why Lorena focused her attack and took her husband’s manhood, and even why, when fleeing the house, she even paused long enough to steal their houseguest’s handheld video game.
According to Dr. David Reardon, author of the Elliot Institute report, “All the evidence presented at Lorena’s trial supports the view that her psychiatric symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were precipitated by a coerced abortion three days before their first wedding anniversary. Lorena pleaded to keep her child and gave in to the abortion only because she was pressured into it by John. Like other women before her, Lorena experienced the unwanted abortion as an attack on both her maternity and her sexuality. That is the key to understanding her subsequent attack on John.”
     Dr. Reardon, a well-known expert on the abortion experiences of women, believes guilt, shame, and resentment over the abortion fueled the rapid rise in violence and sexual abuse in the Bobbitt household. This atmosphere of violence culminated in Lorena’s attack on John’s manhood on almost exactly the third anniversary of the abortion.
     “The timing of the cutting incident was not coincidental,” says Reardon. “Between 30 and 40 percent of women who report post-abortion problems experience more intense symptoms around the anniversary date of the abortion. For these women, the anniversary is a connector back to unresolved grief, which can exhibit itself in the guise of psychosomatic illnesses, increased depression, and uncontrollable fits of rage, all of which Lorena experienced.”
     Lorena’s abortion was on June 15, 1990. On June 18, 1993, she went to her doctor complaining of hyperventilation, cramping, and anxiety attacks. “These psychosomatic symptoms are all typical of a post-abortion anniversary reaction,” said Reardon. “The cutting incident occurred five days later, only minutes after she experienced flashbacks to the abortion, another common post-abortion reaction.”
     Reardon…assisted Lorena Bobbitt’s defense team in identifying the anniversary reaction which occurred at the time of the attack. He also helped Lorena’s defense attorneys to procure the aid of a post-abortion therapist prior to the trial.
     “While I did not have access to any privileged communications in the preparation of this report,” Reardon said, “all of the facts supporting this analysis can be found in the court transcripts, which include expert witness testimonies. When you combine these facts with known patterns of post-abortion reactions, it is clear that Lorena’s abortion trauma profoundly magnified the couple’s problems and influenced everything she did on the night of the attack.”
According to research cited in Reardon’s analysis of the Bobbitt case, nearly 60% of women who experience post-abortion problems report that after their abortions, they lost their tempers more easily and became more violent when angry. If both the woman and her partner were involved in the abortion, mutual feelings of guilt and antagonism may magnify hostilities even more. “This problem,” Reardon says, “can make the resolution of spousal abuse very difficult. Women may refuse to leave violent relationships because intense feelings of guilt and lowered self-esteem may make them more prone to self-destructive behavior. They may continue to expose themselves to the risk of violence because they feel they deserve to be punished.”
     According to the Elliot Institute’s report, Lorena’s traumatic abortion is implicated in the cutting incident not only by the timing of the attack, but also by the manner in which she attacked John. “Lorena felt as though her abortion had left her sexually mutilated,” Reardon says, “and she blamed John for making her have it. That she chose to attack John’s sexuality, not his life, indicates that Lorena was subconsciously choosing to retaliate in kind — ‘an eye for an eye,’ so to speak.”
     Reardon blames the disintegration of the Bobbitt’s marriage on Lorena’s abortionist. He claims that Lorena had at least eight well-known risk factors which indicated that she was likely to suffer severe psychological maladjustments after the abortion. “Any competent physician would have refused to do the abortion on Lorena, no matter how much John wanted it. It was clearly not in her best interests and was predictably likely to cause extensive harm to both her and her marriage.”
     Research published in a recent issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry has shown that a minority of women having abortions experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that are attributable to the abortion itself. Other recent research has shown that women who have abortions are significantly more likely to be subsequently hospitalized for psychiatric illness.
     According to one pioneer in this field, Dr. Vincent Rue, co-director of the Institute for Pregnancy Loss, post-abortion trauma is far more widespread than is generally recognized.
    “From the evidence accumulated in the course of her trial,” Dr. Rue stated, “it is very likely that Lorena Bobbitt’s actions were a direct result of both her traumatic coerced abortion experience and her longstanding abusive relationship with her husband.”
     A copy of the Elliot Institute’s Special Report, “The John and Lorena Bobbitt Mystery, Unraveled,” can be downloaded at [Springfield, IL, 9Jan04)