Lorena Gallo: I Share My Story to Help Other Victims of Domestic Violence

This week, we were honored to host a screening series for Lorena, the gripping docuseries that premieres on Amazon Prime Video today. Lorena tells the story of Lorena Gallo, who after years of being the victim of domestic violence and marital rape, cut off her husband’s penis in 1993. The media had a field day with the story, overlooking the assault and rape to make a mockery of Lorena’s suffering. Now, 25 years later, she’s speaking out. We sat down with Lorena at the #LorenaSeries in New York and Washington D.C. to talk about her case, the docuseries, and how the #MeToo movement has influenced her activism.

C&C: Sharing your story has without a doubt changed public perception and policy around domestic violence. Were you hesitant to do the docuseries? Why did you ultimately decide it would be a positive decision?

Lorena: I wanted to create awareness. The goal was to reach out to the victims who are still suffering in silence. This is an issue that can’t be neglected in society, and I’m glad to tell my story because while I can’t change it, now with the #MeToo movement, it’s helped us remove stigma. We have voices, we are strong, and I’m so glad there are women in Congress now that can continue to help us change this conversation.

C&C: You moved to the US from Venezuela just two years before your marriage. Tell us a little about how being an immigrant affected you as a victim.

Lorena: As an immigrant, I felt isolated. My husband always threatened to kick me out of the country because he knew what would hurt me most was losing my American Dream. That’s how abusers are—they’re controlling. Immigrants are very vulnerable: a lot of women don’t want to call the police, because they’re afraid to be deported.

C&C: How do you feel media and public perception around abuse has changed over the years? Was there a turning point, like the Me Too movement?

Lorena: It gave me strength, more power—it’s not just my voice, but the voice of all of us, the voice of all victims. There are still a lot of gaps that need to be closed, but it’s been 25 years since my case happened, and I’ve seen a lot improve. That said, there’s still so much more to be done.

C&C: We can’t go back and change that there were fewer shelters and resources when you were in a position where you needed them, but you’ve been brave in your activism to make the future brighter. Can you tell us a bit about your path to advocacy?

Lorena: I’ve been an advocate since the trial, because I felt alone through the whole ordeal. After the trial, I received letters from other victims and said to myself, “Wow, you know, I didn’t realize there were so many women who go through this.” That really woke me up and was a turning point that led me to help others. It was amazing—the more I told my story, the more I connected with other women and victims in shelters. Helping always was and still is a passion of mine, and it’s what led me to do this documentary. Talking about my experience was part of healing—it wasn’t easy, but it helped me a lot.

C&C: The Latinx community came together to support you during your trial. Tell us a bit about witnessing their support.

Lorena: It was amazing. During the trial, I saw my Latino community, mi gente, come out to support me with South American flags. They gave me hope and made me feel I wasn’t alone, even though my family was in Venezuela. Seeing that support meant so much to me; I can’t even explain it.

It was amazing—the more I told my story, the more I connected with other women and victims in shelters.

C&C: Headlines made a mockery of your tragedy when it happened. It would be easy to harbor grudges and resentment over this, but all these years later, you continue to advocate for women in the position you once were. What’s the driving force behind your activism, and what do you hope people learn from your tenacity?

Lorena: I’m an advocate, and that is my passion. It’s what makes me thrive. I’m a mother, and my motherly instincts are strong. I want my child, when she goes to college, to be free to walk across campus without fear of assault. I want victims to be free to speak out, to know their rights, and to be protected.

Watch the full four-part Lorena docuseries on Amazon Prime Video.

If you have been directly affected or know someone who has experienced domestic violence you can reach out to The National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233 or chatting online with an advocate at thehotline.org. This non-profit is always available, all day, every day, 365 days a year. Highly trained expert advocates provide confidential support, safety planning, and connection with local resources.