The disturbing trend surrounding the Depp v. Heard case


Emma Minnick, Editor

In 2016, “Aquaman” actress Amber Heard made abuse allegations against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. In 2022, the allegations started a firestorm when Depp’s defamation case went viral online. Many viewers do not believe Amber Heard’s claims due to inconsistencies, lack of emotion in court, and countering claims of abuse from Depp.

To preface this article, I want to make it clear that I do not support Amber Heard and I do not believe the majority of allegations she has made against Depp. It is important to believe domestic abuse victims, but Heard’s story shows major inconsistencies, a lack of tangible evidence, and little to no corroboration. On the contrary, evidence suggests that Depp was a victim of abuse from Heard during their relationship.

I do believe this case has provided a lot of good. For one, the publication of a male domestic abuse survivor is incredibly rare. Yearly reports show that one in three domestic abuse victims are male. Despite this, there is a lot of societal stigma surrounding male abuse victims. I believe that such a high profile man shamelessly admitting his victimhood is a good thing. In recent years, several male celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey and Terry Crews have opened up about their experiences with physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. These influential men, including Depp, are working to end the myth that men cannot be abused.

However, the other side shows an ugly perception of abusers and their victims. Many people who have kept up with the case have made gross statements about Heard, and in the process, trivialized the struggles of female abuse victims. For example, in May 2022, a TikTok audio of Heard describing an alleged sexual assault by Depp went viral. Under the audio, users (mostly young women) shared sentiments that Amber Heard should not complain, and any woman would be lucky to be sexually involved with Depp. Regardless of the truth in her statement, the assault Heard describes is truly horrifying. The romanticization and dismissal of this assault has real-world implications. When people brush off claims of abuse and assault, it hurts real-life victims the most.

The case, which should be a sobering account of domestic violence and marital assault, has instead been treated as an excuse to promote victim-blaming and misogyny. Many pro-Depp individuals have used misogynistic tropes to dismiss Heard’s claims, calling her a “gold digger” and a “crazy ex.” This trial is less about justice, and more about ridiculing and humiliating a woman who alleges abuse.

Amber Heard is not exempt from criticism. In many cases, she is deserving of it. But the mockery of Heard is a slippery slope. So, next time you like a meme about the trial, ask yourself: am I harming a manipulative liar, or female victims as a demographic?