TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.
Marine scientists, we have made a mistake. Eunice aphroditois, is a fearsome aquatic polychaete. Unfortunately, we chose to name it after a domestic abuser. And that needs to be changed.
How did this happen you might ask? In the early 90’s the media was awash with the story of Lorena Bobbitt, the woman who cut off her husband’s penis. She was portrayed as that crazy wife and he as the poor, dismembered husband. I remember it being joked about on SNL. Regrettably, I probably laughed along with it.
Around the same time, scientists discovered Eunice aphroditois. It is a worm that buries itself in the sand waiting for prey, often cutting the victim in half with a fearsome jaw when it strikes. Of course it seemed clever to name it the “Bobbitt Worm”.
But the reality of Lorena Bobbitt’s infamous night was not as it was portrayed in the news (as detailed in an upcoming upcoming Amazon Docuseries and this NY Times article). After years of sexual abuse at the hands of her husband, and after being raped yet again one night, Lorena Bobbitt had enough and cut off her husband’s penis.
Since then, Lorena’s ex-husband, has been in jail for repeatedly assaulting and raping two other women and has otherwise gone on to live a comfortable life profiting from the experience.
Since then, Lorena Gallo, has started a non-profit, Lorena’s Red Wagon, that helps survivors of domestic violence. She is a strong survivor that has turned a terrible night into good.
Let’s do the same. Bobbitt is the last name of a rapist and domestic abuser that should not be immortalized anywhere, not the least being scientific literature. Have we been guilty of that here at DSN? Yes. Can we change the future? Yes. By the time this article is to be published, I will have gone through all posts with the words “Bobbitt Worm” and replace name with Sand Striker, and linking back to this article. I encourage others to do the same.
Because that name needs to be buried in the sand like Eunice aphroditois last snack.
Want to do more? You can donate to an organization that works to end domestic violence and support survivors. Find your local list here at https://nnedv.org/content/state-u-s-territory-coalitions/