What you need to know:
Abuse is not a one-way street. Let us not let our personal bias make us ignore the fact that this is happening to men, too, as surprising as it may sound.
Have you been watching the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard case? If so, then you know that this is a trigger warning for violence, abuse, and downright weird goings-on.
For those who are not aware, Johnny Depp is the actor behind some of Hollywood’s creepiest, ghouliest, delightfully silly roles, such as Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd in the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and unforgettably, Jack Sparrow in all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies ever made. Amber Heard, also a Hollywood darling until recent events came to light, was the leading lady in Jason Momoa’s – sorry, DC’s - Aquaman, and was all set to star once again in the next installment.
The couple first met on the set of the film "The Rum Diary" in 2009, began dating, and later got engaged in 2014. In 2016, Heard filed for divorce after 15 months of marriage and cited abuse.
And so Depp retaliated and countersued, for defamation. Apparently, he has lost a lot of work because of her accusations, which he says don’t tell the full story. And boy, is the full story gruesome. There’re testimonies from her PA, their therapist, former workers – all pretty incriminating stuff, such as her saying that she didn’t ‘punch him, she only hit him,’ allegations that she cut his finger off, and more recently, that she took a dump in their bed. On Depp’s end, there are some heavily murderous text messages, about how he wants to kill Heard, and what he’ll do to her body when she’s dead.
It's a bit of a strange case to deal with when you think about it. When Amber Heard came out with her story, we all sided with her. Of course! We believe victims here. And though we (ok, I) have loved Johnny Depp since 21 Jump Street, anyone can catch these cancel culture hands. I don’t condone violence and when I can, or if I have the power of discernment to, I will do my best not to support it. But then when the truth began to leak out, it got awkward. It makes things a little harder from here on, because you don’t know until you know that the person you’re defending is the problem. It lends too much to the ‘but what if she’s lying?’ argument. And now that we know she hasn’t at all been telling the full story, or so it seems thus far in the court case, how do we react?
Do people react to domestic partner abuse in the same way that they do when the person being abused is a man? Not at all. I am sure we were all surprised when the stories started to surface, and Depp countersued. No one expected he would actually have a case, much less go through with it. Much like the Chris Brown-Rihanna drama (when Chris Brown said in his Netflix documentary that they were both being violent towards each other, mostly stemming from their violent upbringings), there is a definite shift when it would appear that both parties were wrong.
Personally, I don’t know what to think. It’s a sad situation when you see people in relationships getting together and they very much should not be together. Why do people stay? I don’t know. Why did Depp stay? Why did Rihanna? These are superstars in their own right and if they left, they would have the money, resources, support, and options to go on and thrive in their own lives. It makes you wonder about how, if Hollywood millionaires can’t leave, how are ordinary joes – johnnies - doing it?
The Depp case, for me, is a stark reminder that abuse is not a one-way street. Let us not let our personal bias make us ignore the fact that this is happening to men, too, as surprising as it may sound. Let’s make a little space for people – men, specifically, to admit what’s happening and leave, instead of laughing at men who are harassed or abused. And though this seems obvious – if someone slices your finger off, that’s a field of red flags, or whatever the collective noun is. Run.
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