Depp silenced: reflection of a larger issue?

Editorial Board

After three grueling days in the Fairfax courtroom, the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial persists. Depp is suing his ex-wife for roughly $50 million, following her defamatory article published in the Washington Post in 2018. Though Depp was never explicitly mentioned in the article, their public divorce was enough proof to suggest whom the article was targeted at.

Depp and Heard first met on the set of “The Rum Diary” in 2009 and got engaged in 2014 after Depp left his long-term partner, Vanessa Paradis, in 2012. Depp and Heard were lawfully wedded in 2015 and about a year later, Heard filed for divorce. She then began claiming domestic abuse allegations against her ex-husband. Heard filed a restraining order while Depp denied all accusations and offered a $7 million settlement in court. Heard pledged to donate the entirety of the settlement to charity, but six years later, she has still failed to do so.

Two years post-divorce, Heard published an article in the Washington Post titled “Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” In her article, she goes in-depth on her experience as an “abuse survivor,” which was clearly aimed at her ex-husband.

“Imagine a powerful man as a ship, like the Titanic. That ship is a huge enterprise,” Heard wrote. “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.”

Due to the numerous discrepancies in her burden of proof, it is evident that many aspects of Heard’s defense are fabricated. Included on the list of falsified claims was a makeup palette Heard claimed to have used to cover up the bruises Depp allegedly gave her. However, the makeup palette, Milani’s All in One Color Correcting Kit, was not released until 2017, the year after their divorce.

On the other hand, Heard has also been accused of abusing Depp instead of the other way around. On multiple occasions, Heard would try to downplay her behavior or gaslight Depp during the times she would get physical with him. During the trial between her and Depp, a recording that was played revealed that she said, “I did not punch you, I was hitting you.” After Heard filed for a divorce, an audio clip surfaced during a therapy session between Depp and in it Heard states, “I can’t promise you I won’t get physical again.” Heard has essentially admitted to abusing her ex-spouse, so why has the trial continued this long?

In cases of assault and abuse, people are most inclined to believe the woman, but in this case, we need to believe the survivor. The presumed roles have been swapped and Heard is the perpetrator. It is important to create a space in which everyone is given a platform to tell their side of the story, but it is also important to remember that being a victim of abuse is not always exclusive to one gender. There are no gender or socioeconomic exemptions from harassment; we must stand with Depp and others, specifically men, who are afraid to tell their stories out of fear of their masculinity being brought into question. Being a victim of abuse is an indescribably vulnerable place to be in and no matter an individual’s gender, we should applaud their courage to speak out rather than berating them for not being “man” enough to survive the torment.