When Amber Heard accused Johnny Depp of domestic abuse, I believed her.
I didn’t actively boycott Johnny Depp – he wasn’t a big part of my life anyway – but I thought he was an abuser. If he was in an ad on TV, I would roll my eyes with an uttering of “ugh, trash.”
Recently audio of Amber Heard was released talking about abuse she perpetrated against her husband. This is not a piece dissecting which person is right. Both of them have submitted evidence against the other (with Depp having a lot more evidence) and are discussing the matter in court. There are no legal charges against anyone and I can’t say if either (or both) of them abused the other.
Ella Whelan, journalist and author of the book What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism, has this week written on the “dangers of ‘believing the victim'” and the “corrosive effects of contemporary feminism on justice.”
Amber Heard Is Not An Excuse To Discredit All Women
Campaigns like #MeToo and #BelieveWomen are a result of centuries of sexual and domestic violence survivors being told that they should be ashamed of the crime that was perpetrated against them, that it could have been their fault, or that it wasn’t really that bad. It’s a small cultural shift that gives people the space to talk about how that violence affected them and how they healed.
Oh, no, men are talking about Johnny Depp. But the only thing they’re saying is that since Amber Heard lied, every woman now is a liar and female victims shouldn’t be believed. https://t.co/kCbmLJ9oYW
— sai (@Saisailu97) February 4, 2020
The reality of the fact is that most victims of domestic and sexual violence are women and most of the perpetrators are men.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule and those stories are no less valid because of gender, but it would be reductionist to pretend that there isn’t a gender discrepancy. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare explicitly state in their 2018 report on family, domestic, and sexual violence that it “occurs across all ages, and all socioeconomic and demographic groups, but predominantly affects women and children.”
The idea of believing people when they come forward about sexual or family violence is not a move from extremist feminists who want to indiscriminately believe every woman and prosecute every man, as people like Bettina Arndt would have you believe. It’s based in science. Studies as far back as 1998 have shown that the response survivors receive when they disclose abuse can influence their decision making process, recovery, and wellbeing.
amber heard exploited a movement meant for abuse survivors as a way to ruin johnny depp’s career and reputation and she likely won’t face any repercussions bc she’s a rich white lady and ppl don’t give male abuse survivors the same amount of respect #JusticeForJohnnyDepp pic.twitter.com/r2YjEZBVFn
— jules (@xjulesy) February 3, 2020
I Will Still Believe Women Who Claim Abuse
I’m trained in responding to disclosures of trauma with compassion. You learn that there are three things survivors need to hear: you are sorry, what happened was a crime, and that you will do what you can to help. This is heard as confirmation that you believe them, that what happened wasn’t their fault, and that they’re not alone. Without that, survivors are a lot less likely to disclose again, or to seek help with any issues that may arise from their trauma, like anxiety, PTSD, or depression.
I will always believe people who disclose their experience of violence because I would prefer to take a chance on looking naïve over turning my back on a person who has experienced genuine trauma. This is not a call for people to believe every single allegation of abuse, regardless of context, but rather a request for compassion and empathy.
I owe Johnny Depp an apology. I know he’s never met me and he probably won’t but still. I was wrong about him. I was wrong for believing the accusations against him and contributing to a culture of further abuse towards him. He deserves support, love, and peace in his life.
— MxUnderstood (they/them)? (@angstyenby) February 3, 2020
I don’t regret believing Amber Heard. I’m sorry that I could have played a part in the social damnation of Johnny Depp, however I will never apologise for believing someone who came forward saying they’ve been abused.
If this article has brought up thoughts or concerns for you, please contact the services below:
Respect national hotline: 1800 737 732
Women’s Crisis Line: 1800 811 811
Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491
Lifeline (24-hour crisis line): 131 114
Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
Image Sources: Twitter