As a survivor of sexual abuse and an abusive relationship, I have found myself following the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial with morbid interest. This fiasco of a scandal began six years ago, as the troubled relationship between the two broke down and Heard, appearing in public with a small bruise on her cheek, filed for a restraining order and divorce. Heard, bolstered by the sensational articles appearing at the time, positioned herself as a champion of women's rights as Depp's career crashed and burned.
It did not take long for controversy to stir on both sides. An audio tape of a strident fight between them surfaced, with Heard admitting to "hitting, but not punching" Johnny Depp. What had originally seemed a simple case of domestic abuse became the story of two out-of-control people, possibly both abusing one another.
Last year, Depp lost a huge trial against the Sun, a conservative British tabloid famed for its scurrilous headlines. Of course, this was seen as a victory for women everywhere, despite the mounting new evidence that Heard had punched Depp on several occasions, and even severed his finger. As the audio tapes and film clips of Amber Heard's deposions were made public, we could see Heard smirking and eating chocolates, as she described her altercations with Depp. At this point, as a victim of abuse myself, I really wondered how a woman who had been victimized could so nonchalantly describe being a victim.
As yet another trial began this, I tried to maintain a neutral view, giving each side the benefit of the doubt. Both sides seemed to speak some truth. Both seem to have had terrible drug and alcohol problems, with Johnny Depp being quite frank in admitting this.
To simply claim "believe all women" when the defendant so blatantly lied about hitting Depp on the stand, contradicted both her own story and that of her own sister, and flip-flopped on whether the op-ed was about Johnny Depp or not is both insulting to victims of domestic abuse as it is an insult to the concept of presumption of innocence.
We need to ask ourselves how the "me too" movement can possibly move forward if abusers and con artists are allowed to instrumentalize the movement and weaponize their gender. The question we must ask is whether women who hit men can be referred to as "victims of domestic abuse". We know that both Heard and Depp have had some serious drug and alcohol problems, and both have been diagnosed with mental health disorders. However, the mountain of evidence evincing Heard's abuse of Depp has largely been ignored. Do we take abuse of men seriously?
Sadly, the outcome of this trial will make it harder for women without evidence to claim abuse. Instead of clarity, a new polarity has been formed, and the movement itself has lost credibility. We can also expect, in the future, less trust in corporate media due to the lack of balanced journalism. The fault for this outcome lies squarely at the feet of Amber Heard.