The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard case: about gender (in)equality

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According to Womensaid.com domestic abuse is “an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behavior, including sexual violence”. However, according to the same source, “in the vast majority of cases, it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.”

As women, we learn to protect ourselves from men from a very young age, as they often resort to violence to “solve” their issues. So, are we wrong to automatically believe a woman’s story about domestic violence, even when there’s no proof? I mean, it’s not like it’s such an uncommon incident.

What happened? 

In 2016 American actress Amber Heard stated that she had been abused by her at the time husband, Johnny Depp. She filed for divorce on grounds of domestic violence and put out a series of pictures that served as proof of her claims. As a result, the world quickly shut off Johnny Depp and she received a partial restraining order against him. The court file at the time also mentioned her side of the story, how and why she felt her life was in danger and described several alleged incidents that can be found here.

The media immediately took her side, as did the readers, and slandered Johnny for what they thought he did. Indeed, this caused him to lose plenty of opportunities (such as his role in the new “Fantastic Beasts” movie), supporters, and general public approval.

However, in 2019, Johnny Depp filed a lawsuit against Amber Heard, bringing forward proof for the lies she had told. As it turns out, she was the abuser. And he arguments to prove it. You can read the court case here and audio recordings that were used as further proof here.

The plaintiff relates the physical, verbal, and emotional abuse Amber Heard put her husband through.

His lawsuit included a great deal of evidence. But the judge didn’t rule in his favor. On November 3rd, 2020 he lost the case against the British newspaper, “The Sun” which he was suing for libel. The tabloid called him a “wife-beater”, among other derogatory slurs.

So, why is this important?

We should never discredit women for a situation where they felt victimized. However, we must also not forget that men can be domestic abuse victims too. We tend to see men as strong, emotionless creatures. And women as the exact opposite. Therefore we often doubt or question domestic abuse when men are the sufferers.

Statistically speaking, men are less likely to report abuse. Not because it doesn’t happen to them, but because they feel ashamed to do so. Men are usually ridiculed or belittled if the offender is a woman. And they need more proof than women do. In legal cases, domestic abuse is less often a serious offense if the victim is male. And the previously mentioned case is just an example of this type of behavior.

Society enforces the idea that men cannot fall victim at the hands of a woman. After all, aren’t they the stronger gender? Can’t they just protect themselves?

Neither gender should be silenced in their fight to stop the abuse. No one is immune to its repercussions, be they physical, mental, or most often, both.

These are a few reasons why I believe this case was so important for today’s society. It opened the subject of male victims to the general public and showed us a number of problems when dealing with this type of domestic violence. Abuse does not pick and choose. It can happen to anyone, regardless of sex, social status, race, or any other factors that may influence other life occurrences.

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