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Image / Editorial

Amber Heard powerfully speaks out the Institutions that ‘protect men accused of abuse’


By Jennifer McShane
20th Dec 2018
Amber Heard powerfully speaks out the Institutions that ‘protect men accused of abuse’

Amber Heard is public figure who, since it emerged she was a victim of alleged domestic abuse by her former husband, Johnny Depp has been constantly vilified for speaking out. Nothing was proved; Depp denied the charges but a bruised Heard was granted a restraining order before the couple eventually divorced.

After releasing a joint statement acknowledging the end of their marriage “volatile but always bound by love,” Heard also dropped all charges and pledged to donate her divorce settlement to charity, but it was too late. She was vilified by the media; a manipulative gold digger out for attention, out to destroy her talented former husband, who was grieving after his mother’s death.

Domestic violence affects about one in five women in Ireland, and not only does it remain unreported by both the victims and in the official statistics, a new survey revealed that issues of violence should be “kept within the family.” Women are reluctant to speak out when such abuse takes place and as well as this; they have little chance of refuge once this occurs. According to figures from Safe Ireland, domestic abuse services revealed that they were unable to meet up to 14 requests every day from women looking for safe accommodation recently. This is a daily average amounting to nearly 5,000 unmet requests from women over a full year.

Heard’s story was on every front page and social-media platform for public dissection; she surely couldn’t be right – even after a video emerged online of Depp displaying aggressive behaviour – so the public decided to challenge her every statement and subsequently find her lacking in both morality and credibility. He was a rockstar, revered in Hollywood who had “fallen from grace” while she was selfish, only thinking of herself and her fortune.

 

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The mob was out for blood, demanding Heard withdraw her allegations, and even after she did for her own mental health, she is still presented as the villain of the story – even in the era of #MeToo – yet she has drawn on her experiences to give hope to other women – despite this coming at a cost.

I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.

In a powerful op-ed, the actress talked about the wrath she received following the allegations and why institutions protect perpetuators. Depp has continued to secure high-profile acting jobs, including a role in JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them while Heard revealed that she was told she’d never work again.

“I was on trial in the court of public opinion”

“Imagine a powerful man as a ship, like the Titanic. That ship is a huge enterprise,” she wrote in the Washington Times. “When it strikes an iceberg, there are a lot of people on board desperate to patch up holes — not because they believe in or even care about the ship, but because their own fates depend on the enterprise.”

She received death threats, was dropped by a major fashion brand once she spoke out as well as being told she’d be blacklisted in Hollywood.

“I write this as a woman who had to change my phone number weekly because I was getting death threats,” she said. “For months, I rarely left my apartment, and when I did, I was pursued by camera drones and photographers on foot, on motorcycles and in cars. Tabloid outlets that posted pictures of me spun them in a negative light. I felt as though I was on trial in the court of public opinion — and my life and livelihood depended on myriad judgments far beyond my control.”

Heard called on the Congress to better protect survivors of domestic abuse by strengthening the Violence Against Women Act. She also asserted that we should continue to fight sexual assault on college campuses, “while simultaneously insisting on fair processes for adjudicating complaints.”

“I want to ensure that women who come forward to talk about violence receive more support. We are electing representatives who know how deeply we care about these issues. We can work together to demand changes to laws and rules and social norms — and to right the imbalances that have shaped our lives.

Read, remember and focus on those words, rather than the headline stories and magazine covers that seem to automatically portray Johnny Depp as the wronged good guy.