One of the biggest fears a woman faces when speaking out about domestic violence is that no one will believe her.
As women, we empower one another, we remind each other that we have one another’s backs and that an abusive relationship of any form is NEVER okay. We support our friends when they are in these dark places, we help pull them out when they need it, and we remind them that they are making the RIGHT choices by speaking up and leaving unhealthy relationships.
Apparently this doesn’t apply to celebrities.
I’ve followed the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp headlines the past couple months and I’ve been shocked to read not only the headlines that news outlets are reporting, but most of all, the comment sections of these articles.
What’s even more jarring, the majority of these commenters are women!
A sampling from around the web:
“Amber Heard is a gold digger and just after Johnny Depp’s money.”
“I believe she is manipulative and I also believe she would push to the point he exploded. I see this done daily by women.”
“Bottom line, she’s getting a tax break.”
“Does anyone else find it funny that she’s donating everything to charity, AFTER the Internet blew up and called her a gold-digging liar?”
“You weren’t there in that relationship so its not your place to say who was a victim. Its really no ones business.”
“Maybe she would have been more credible if she didn’t have a conviction of domestic violence against HER from a past relationship with another woman. I still call BS. Johnny Depp has dated a slew of famous women, many a lot more famous than her and this has never been an accusation that has ever come up.”
These are all comments that I gathered in literally ten minutes. I scanned other articles with similar sentiments over the past few weeks- that Amber Heard is lying to gain popularity, to become more famous, she’s a gold digging whore, and the list goes on…and on.
Imagine for a moment that you fell in love and married the man of your dreams. Then, add a spotlight to your marriage- one that follows you wherever you go. Now, picture that marriage turning into a violent, emotionally unstable relationship.
Sounds pretty scary, right?
What would you do?
My first instinct, as a woman, would be to seek my family and friends guidance. I’d file a police report, get a restraining order, and in this faux scenario, I’d make sure, above all, that both my daughter and I were safe.
Seeing as I am not a celebrity, the restraining order I filed in court would definitely not make public news. It would not be blasted by every media outlet across the globe, nor would it grace the glossy magazine covers of every grocery store. No one would be questioning my motives.
However, I would like to think if I posted to my personal timeline on Facebook that I was forced to ask for a restraining order against my husband because he’d abused me in some form, I’d have swarms of support. Actually, I’m certain that would be the case.
But I’m not married to Johnny Depp. I’m not married to the man that every single woman (and many men) on the planet have swooned over at some point in their life.
Johnny Depp has ample celebrity capital over Amber Heard. By age alone, he outranks her. In 1984 (before Heard was even born), Depp was a hit in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and his infamous Edward Scissorhands was released in 1990—when Heard was just 4 years old. Depp has won the hearts of fans from far and wide, and love and admiration from producers, actors, and directors from every end of the globe. Amber Heard is still a young, rising star.
It saddens me to think that so many would rather take Depp’s silence and celebrity status as his innocence; the fact that he’s “never hit prior girlfriends,” and seems like an “all around nice guy” is being used as argument against the woman who stood up against him. We are literally using that rationale in defense of Heard’s allegations, and many seem to claim that her allegations are merely “lies” to “scheme money off of him,” “make her celebrity star rise higher,” and a ton of other bullshit.
Let’s look back to the Brock Turner case. How many women rallied for an unknown woman whose face or name we never knew? When Brock Turner’s ridiculous sentence was handed down after the victim read her statement in court, the people of the internet gathered around that woman and supported her with arms of steel. There were a few naysayers, some who said it was “her fault for becoming so inebriated,” but for the most part- women and men across the globe supported that woman for taking the stand and giving her account of what happened to her that one fateful evening.
However, the “wife of Johnny Depp” does the same thing, stands up for herself and shows women across the globe that under no circumstance should women stand for domestic abuse, and the public nails her to the cross?How Do You Play The Perfect Victim when America Writes The Script? Click To Tweet
What the hell is wrong with this picture? How can we as women empower one another to leave abusive relationships, yet terrorize a woman who spoke up, bruised and battered, against her alleged attacker?
The celebrities we see playing our favorite characters on screen- NEWSFLASH: They are not real. Johnny Depp is no more a pirate than Will Ferrell is an Elf.
These are CHARACTERS that they play. Their job is to make us fall in love with their characters on screen, yet so many of us seem to think that they are the same people off screen. We have a horrible habit of glorifying celebrities in our country, and I can’t find reason for this horrific, public display of nasty commentary against Heard other than the love so many have developed for Depp’s characters over the years.
So, when you leave your comment about Amber Heard being a “gold digger,” or blaming Depp’s actions on Amber Heard because “she egged him on,” or that her seven million dollar donation to charity was merely just an effort to “save face,” take a moment to think about what it might be like to be her in that situation.
Think about being married to a man who’s a household name that America loves. Take a moment to think about the guts it must have taken Heard to actually speak up, think about, potentially, how many times something like this happened to her before she decided to ask for help.
Think about the JOINT STATEMENT they released stating: “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gains. There was never an intent of physical or emotional harm. Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future. Amber will be donating financial proceeds from the divorce to a charity.” – Amber Heard & Johnny Depp
Lastly, think about your children. How would you feel if this was your daughter, your son? If your child came to you and told you that he/she was being abused by an upper classmen, would you downplay their accusations because “they were looking for attention” or “they wanted sympathy from the popular kids”? NO. YOU WOULD NOT.
And the mentality that is: “We don’t know the whole story and it isn’t our business”? Uhm, that’s the epitome of the problem! If we don’t listen when people need us, when our fellow women, men, our community needs us, we’re becoming part of the problem. Supporting one another is how we empower, standing with one another in the face of adversity is how we spread the word that abuse in ANY form is NEVER tolerated.
If we don’t stand with victims, if we don’t advocate, who will?
From start to finish, no one wanted to believe that the “Sexiest Man Alive” could beat his wife and so, so many people voiced their grievances with Heard’s accusations. Ultimately, what this dissolvement of marriage showcased to women who may be in similar situations is that if they speak up, as Amber Heard did, there is a chance that they won’t be taken seriously, or even worse, they will be painted as the “bad guy” in the picture. To any woman who is already terrified to speak up, what do you think she took away from this? What do you think the chances of her speaking up and asking for help are now?
We can’t afford for domestic violence to be taboo and the names of alleged abusers to be unspoken. When you contribute to this important conversation, consider what kind of climate you are helping create for the women of the future. Our children deserve better and we need to create a culture of support and kindness where accountability isn’t shielded by celebrity.
What can you do? You can share this post and others like it, you can talk about domestic violence, you can support victims of domestic violence- and always, you can listen, be a voice of reason and come from a place of compassion and love.
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