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Lorena Bobbitt pops up on ‘Steve Harvey’ to standing ovation from female audience

There’s no gentle way into a story that inspired both late-night jokes and a serious discussion of domestic violence: Lorena Bobbitt gained fame when she cut off her husband’s penis in 1993. And Steve Harvey explored both the tragic and comic elements of Bobbitt’s tale during an interview with the woman herself on Monday.

The mostly female audience could barely contain its enthusiasm during Harvey’s intro.

“Few tales of lovers who lost it have left a bigger impact than John and Lorena Bobbitt,” Harvey said. “Their volatile marriage, filled with allegations of abuse and infidelity, came to a gruesome conclusion when, in a fit of rage, Lorena took the one thing most precious to her husband and committed the one act every man fears the most.”

Bobbitt was greeted with a standing ovation — one that gave Harvey the opportunity to mug.

Harvey jokingly questioned why his audience had chosen to, as youth say, “raise the roof” to honor a woman who had mutilated her husband’s sex organ.

“What was all this about?” he asked, thrusting his hands in the air.

Then, Harvey asked Bobbitt the obvious question: “What happened?”

Bobbitt recounted her well-known tale. She came to Northern Virginia from Venezuela at 18 seeking a new life. She married John in 1989. Her husband, she said, was charming at first, but their relationship soon devolved as he took up drugs and alcohol and slept around. He abused her physically and sexually, she said, and she soon suffered from battered woman’s syndrome. Then, on June 23, 1993, in Manassas, Va., she “snapped.”

“I found myself in the street with a penis in one hand and the knife in the other,” Bobbitt said. “So yeah, that happens.”

“It happens?” Harvey said.

“I’m here to tell you and to tell everyone what happens when a woman gets abused by a man,” Bobbitt said.

“Why didn’t you leave?” Harvey asked.

“I didn’t know where to go,” she said. “I didn’t know there were shelters for me to go to. And remember, I was isolated. I didn’t have my family. I felt embarrassed to talk about domestic abuse … I felt ashamed. I felt scared.”

Lorena was acquitted of malicious wounding in 1994 by reason of temporary insanity; John, who denied the abuse charges, was acquited of marital sexual assault as well — and, for the record, had his penis reattached and starred in a pornography film.

“I’m glad that after 22 years you still laugh about it, but something good has come of my negative,” Bobbitt said.

Bobbitt said she now runs Lorena’s Red Wagon, an anti-domestic violence organization that reaches out to battered women and children in shelters. She remarried — to a “gentleman,” she said, who does not have a lot of questions about how she ended up in headlines — and has a daughter.

She has rejected her former husband’s attempts to reach out, she told Harvey

“I have a new life now,” she said. “I surround myself with positive people.”