Proof has come out that Amber Heard committed domestic violence against her then-husband Johnny Depp. Recordings obtained by The Daily Mail show an admitted history of violence by Heard. In this recording, Heard admits to hitting Depp, and “starting a physical fight.”
Her temper is so severe that she finds herself unable to control it, saying “You poke an animal enough, it is eventually, it doesn’t matter how friendly it is, it’s not cool.” She goes on to exhibit classic gaslighting behaviour, telling Depp she didn’t hurt him, despite having hit him. “’I’m sorry that I didn’t, uh, uh, hit you across the face in a proper slap, but I was hitting you, it was not punching you. Babe, you’re not punched… I don’t know what the motion of my actual hand was, but you’re fine, I did not hurt you, I did not punch you, I was hitting you.”
Domestic violence takes many forms, and the murder rate for women who suffer at the hands of domestic abusers is on the rise. In the U.S., 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men over the age of 18 fall prey to the brutality of those with whom they share a home life. Because it’s so essential that those who are in these precarious situations are able to seek out and access help, it’s truly egregious when a person uses accusations of domestic violence for personal gain. Such was the case with Amber Heard, ex-wife of Johnny Depp, who accused him of domestic abuse when she was as guilty of committing the same offense.
In 2018, Heard penned at op-ed in The Washington Post complaining that speaking up against domestic violence caused her professional harm. She wrote “Friends and advisers told me I would never again work as an actress—that I would be blacklisted. A movie I was attached to recast my role. I had just shot a two-year campaign as the face of a global fashion brand, and the company dropped me. Questions arose as to whether I would be able to keep my role of Mera in the movies Justice League and Aquaman.”
In this article, she never mentioned Depp’s name. But he was partially who she was talking about. She accused Depp in 2016 of domestic abuse, and took out a restraining order against him. Their divorce saga became very public, and Depp was accused in the press of being an abuser. He was ridiculed, and when he tried to state his side of the story, namely that he was hurt at her hands, he was further demonized.
Now that the recordings have been released, Twitter users have launched #JusticeForJohnnyDepp, sharing messages and gifs in support of the defamed actor. But where were all these people when he was falsely accused in the first place? The trend of people speaking up only when their bias has been confirmed, and not for the principles of things like due process and presuming innocence until guilt is proven, are as much a part of this problem as a media infrastructure that latches onto whatever is the most salacious detail and runs with it right off a cliff.
In the U.S., the number of domestic violence victims “rose to 2,237 in 2017, a 19 percent increase from the 1,875 killed in 2014… The majority of the victims in 2017 were women, a total of 1,527.” It’s so important that women who are victimized are able to get help for themselves and, in many cases, their children. But what Heard did when she used her substantial platform to denounce Depp for crimes she was guilty of herself did a disservice to the very cause for which she was advocating.
Men who suffer domestic abuse are often not taken seriously. Conventional wisdom is that men can’t get beaten up by girls, or that they are better able to defend themselves against the violence of the weaker sex. But none of that is a justification for abusing them, and it’s not always true. There’s also this crazy idea that many men are raised with that they shouldn’t hit women no matter what. This is a good principle, men shouldn’t hit women, and women who feel vulnerable to their own insane tempers need to grab control of that. Physical violence within the boundaries of a romantic partnership is never acceptable.
Heard knew that arguably from her own experience. In her op-ed, she wrote “I was exposed to abuse at a very young age. I knew certain things early on, without ever having to be told. I knew that men have the power—physically, socially and financially—and that a lot of institutions support that arrangement. I knew this long before I had the words to articulate it, and I bet you learned it young, too.” What Heard didn’t learn was that she had as much responsibility to not hurt others as the men in her life had to not hurt her.