Our reaction to Amber Heard’s allegations is frightening
It’s another reminder that men are always given the benefit of the doubt
Over the past few days there’s been a lot of tension surrounding Amber Heard’s claims of being abused by her ex husband Johnny Depp. She said he was physically and verbally abusive for the entirety of their relationship and threw a mobile phone at her face. In court documents, she said there was a severe incident when she feared her life was in danger. She provided text messages and photo evidence, her neighbour signed a declaration saying the story was true, and she was granted a temporary restraining order over Depp.
We’ve all seen the photos of her bruised face, and now the texts from his assistant. Yet somehow that’s not enough evidence for us if you’re a woman who’s married to a rich, well loved actor.
I don’t blame you – the media coverage questioning Amber’s credibility has been terrifyingly presumptive. To them, she is a woman who is less famous and less wealthy than her husband – she can only be after money and more fame, as all attractive female actresses are. American site TMZ, for example, would have you think she was lying because she smiled in court.
Most frightening of all is the message this sends to victims of domestic abuse. That even if they are brave enough to do everything in their power to raise the alarm on an abusive husband, they still don’t deserve to be trusted. Amber Heard is a celebrity, but she did it all by the books. She spoke out, divorced him, filed a restraining order, multiple forms of evidence. The public’s reaction? To put her on trial instead of him. You don’t have to look far to find her branded a liar, a gold-digger and slut. If we can’t listen to Amber Heard, there’s not much hope for the rest of us.
I, just like you, have no place to say if he is guilty or she is innocent. I don’t know what happens behind closed doors. I’m just judging from a flurry of articles that have been circulating over the last few days. Like you I was swayed by Lily Rose Depp’s Instagram post saying he was the “sweetest most loving person“. I read the heartfelt defence of his character from his ex wife Vanessa Paradis and thought “Johnny Depp? He couldn’t possibly have done that”.
But abusers can be kind to some people in their lives and abusive to others. Anyone can look good from the outside – kind, sensitive, friendly – and go home and beat their wives. I’ve known people who abuse women that on the exterior are charismatic, charming and gentle, but behind closed doors turn controlling, aggressive and violent. You might have too. Domestic abuse isn’t black and white, and this situation with Amber Heard and Johnny Depp is no different.