The moment John Bobbitt realized his wife had cut off his penis: 'It was a nightmare'

"It was a nightmare."

John Wayne Bobbitt says when he woke up to discover that his then-wife Lorena Bobbitt had cut off his penis with a kitchen knife, he tried to remain calm and stop the bleeding.

“It was a nightmare,” Bobbitt told ABC News in an exclusive new interview that was previewed in a new clip. “I cleared my thoughts, applied pressure. I went to wake my friend up to tell him to get me to the hospital.”

It was the early morning hours on June 23, 1993. Lorena Bobbitt, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was 24-years-old at the time, had fled their Manassas, Virginia, apartment with his penis in one hand and the knife in the other, gotten into her car and driven off.

His friend, who had been staying over, started screaming “as soon as he saw the blood everywhere,” Bobbitt said. “He was going crazy.”

“Walking into the hospital, the [emergency room] doctor is -- you know -- looking at me, [and says] ‘show me your wrist,’” thinking at first that all the blood had been from a wound to his arm, Bobbitt told ABC News.

“The emergency room physician comes in and looks at John’s hands and wrists and says ‘ there’s no cut there,’ and of course John knew there was no cut there,” Bobbitt’s plastic surgeon Dr. David Berman told ABC News. “And he [the doctor] goes ‘where’s all the blood coming from?’ and John points down below.”

When the sheet covering him fell away, Bobbitt said the emergency doctor’s “jaw dropped.”

“Really all I knew about this on the way into the hospital was that a penis had been amputated and the organ was missing,” Dr. James Sehn, Bobbitt’s urologist told ABC News.

After a nine-hour surgery, Drs. Berman and Sehn were able to successfully reattach Bobbitt’s penis and return it to normal function.

“It’s normal now,” Bobbitt told ABC News. ‘I don’t want to mess with it… it’s been through the wringer.”

Lorena Bobbitt was charged with malicious wounding and faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted. In court, Lorena Bobbitt claimed her then-husband had repeatedly sexually and physically abused her. She claimed the knife attack occurred after John Bobbitt had drunkenly returned to their apartment and raped her.

“I picked up the knife," Lorena Bobbitt told ABC News in a 1993 interview. "I went back to the bedroom. I took the sheets off, I cut him."

"Everything was just fast.”

John Bobbitt, a former Marine, has long denied her allegations of sexual and physical abuse. He was charged with marital sexual assault and found not guilty in a separate trial.

At her trial, Lorena was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity and spent five weeks at a mental hospital for treatment and evaluation.

“I couldn’t believe it, how could someone get away with it,” John Bobbitt told ABC News.

Lorena Bobbitt’s highly-publicized trial -- a year before the O.J. Simpson double murder criminal trial began -- pushed domestic violence into the national conversation.

The Bobbitts, who were married for six years, divorced in 1995. She now goes by her maiden name of Lorena Gallo.

Shortly after her release from the mental health facility in March 1994, Lorena told ABC News that she regretted her actions.

"I never meant to hurt anybody," she said at the time. "I never hurt anybody before."

"It just happened."

ABC News' Rachel Wenzlaff and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.