'He hurt me,' Ms Bobbitt said during her second day in the witness box at her trial in Manassas, Virginia. 'You don't understand because you're a man,' she told her lawyer, James Lowe. 'He doesn't understand because he's a man, but he hurt me.'
After a long, tearful pause, she described how she went into the kitchen to get a drink and, in the light of the open fridge, saw a red- handled knife on the kitchen table. But, she insisted to Mr Lowe and later to the prosecution lawyer, Mary Grace O'Brien, she did not remember the act itself.
Only when she was driving away in panic, she said, did she see the penis in her hand and realise what she had done. 'I was driving and I couldn't make the turn. My hands were busy and I saw it and screamed and just threw it out.'
Mrs Bobbitt is on trial for malicious wounding. Her husband, John, a former Marine and part- time nightclub bouncer, was acquitted in November of raping his wife. If she is to be similarly exonerated, she must convince the jury of seven women and five men that she was temporarily insane when she mutilated her husband, acting under an 'irresistible impulse' - the culmination of constant rape, beatings and humiliations throughout a miserable four-year marriage.
The prosecution yesterday sought to depict Mrs Bobbitt as acting from calculating fury. Time and again, Ms O'Brien tried to make Ms Bobbitt admit she had been angered by her husband's behaviour.
At least once, she was reduced to convulsive sobs for minutes on end. On other occasions she clutched an ormanental gold crucifix around her neck, in a halting voice apologising for her lapses in memory. But essentially she stuck to her story - despite Ms O'Brien's strenuous efforts to point up discrepancies in her evidence and to discredit Ms Bobbitt by referring to episodes of shoplifting and petty theft during the marriage.
Earlier, under questioning from Mr Lowe, Ms Bobbitt, who was born in Ecuador, testified that less than a year after their wedding in 1989, her husband had forced her to have an abortion, and that he had made fun of her at the clinic where the abortion was performed. 'I was very nervous. He was laughing at me and I was crying. It was like my life was over.'
Later, she testified that memories of the abortion were among the images in her mind in the moments before she took the knife to her husband. But, Ms O'Brien asked repeatedly, why - if the marriage was as painful and brutalising as Ms Bobbitt alleged - did she continue living with her husband? By yesterday afternoon, six hours of emotional testimony from her had still not provided an answer.Reuse content