Women are abusive.
It’s not a particularly remarkable idea. But it’s one we’ve come to learn as truth.
It was no better demonstrated than in January of 2020 when public attention was fixed on actress Amber Heard as details of Johnny Depp’s defamation suit became public. Leaked audio confirmed that she’d verbally and physically abused her ex-husband Johnny Depp during their turbulent 15-month marriage.
Heard was publicly lambasted. Rightly, female-perpetrated domestic violence was thrust into the spotlight. And for a brief moment, it seemed that people might finally take notice of the pervasive issue of female abusers.
But after the initial outrage, the issue faded into obscurity.
Today, we learned that Heard has admitted to more abuse—this time smashing a door into Depp’s head and punching him in the jaw.
In the way that abusers do, Heard even attempted to minimize her actions, disputing whether she “pushed or punched” her ex-husband, saying he’s “very dramatic about everything.”
“I meant to hit you, and I did not do this thing with the door. I do remember, I did mean to hit you.”
Even with the knowledge that Heard is the perfect portrait of a female abuser, we continue to act as though these occurrences are few and far between. As mounting audio evidence confirms Heard’s violence, the widespread silence on the issue tells us exactly how society feels towards male victims and female perpetrators.
It’s clearer than ever that we simply don’t hold male and female abusers to the same standards. But the disappointing reality is that the Heard/Depp case is not uncommon.
Men around the world can relate to this exact scenario. The abuse they suffer at the hands of their wife or girlfriend is not only minimized and ignored, but they are often forced to shoulder the majority of blame and accusations when things get ugly.
Western culture still clings to the narrative that women aren’t aggressors of domestic violence. We hear all the time about female victims and male aggressors—so much so, in fact, that the entire industry is built around this paradigm.
It is continually reinforced by the media, pop culture, and politicians. The majority of domestic violence funding and support networks are geared towards women and, until recently, society viewed male victims as a reasonably uncommon phenomenon.
Which is why the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp saga is so important.
When it first came to light that Heard played a significant and violent role in her relationship, the issue of male victims became impossible to ignore. We learned that she was verbally and physically abusive towards Depp, even suggesting nobody would believe him if he ever spoke up.
But rather than people marching in the streets demanding equal treatment or justice for male victims, instead the issue was swept under the rug.
If Heard had been a man, her treatment would have been significantly worse. We know this because we’ve seen it on repeat. Accusations of domestic violence—whether true or not—are enough to set a man’s world alight.
They often land men homeless, childless and jobless.
In Amber Heard’s case, even with repeated proof and admissions of guilt, society has decided there’s absolutely nothing to see here. And that message is being received by men around the world loud and clear: female abusers won’t face repercussions.
Society’s preoccupation with curbing domestic violence has led to an unfortunate side effect: ignoring women who don’t fit the “female victim” mold. The compelling case of Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard should be a wake up call for everyone still willing to open their eyes.