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Johnny Depp defamation verdict 'a setback' for women: Is Amber Heard right?

WRITTEN BY
06/03/22
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Fact Box

  • On June 1, 2022, and after six weeks of testimony, a Fairfax County, VA, jury awarded actor Johnny Depp $15 million after finding that Depp’s ex-wife, Amber Heard, “intentionally and maliciously defamed [Depp] when she wrote her 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post about her experiences as a domestic abuse survivor.” Heard was awarded $2 million in her defamation countersuit involving Depp’s lawyer calling her op-ed a hoax. 
  • Johnny Depp and Amber Heard first met when both worked on the film The Rum Diary in 2009. Although both actors were seeing other people at the time, both agree that a particular shower scene they filmed together was when their chemistry was established. 
  • Amber Heard was arrested in Seattle in 2009 for allegedly “domestically abusing her ex-partner Tasya van Ree,” by hitting her in the arm. Van Ree later issued a statement “claiming that the incident was ‘misinterpreted’ and that Heard was ‘wrongfully’ accused.” 
  • A Rasmussen Reports survey revealed that in April 2022, “40% of American adults believe…that Depp is probably telling the truth. Just 10% think Heard is probably telling the truth. Fifty-one percent (51%) are undecided.”

Elisa (Yes)

Not believing domestic abuse claims has created a deadly silence in many female victims. Amber Heard is a recent casualty of this type of misogyny, where so many claim she lied about her abuse, despite evidence showing she was the victim. Amber Heard's outcome exemplifies what many women experience when it comes to claims of abuse and why so many women are afraid to report their abuse.  

Unfortunately, Amber Heard was dangerously vilified. No, Heard is not perfect, but no victim is, and anyone who understands abuse understands what it can do to a person—it psychologically breaks them. Heard clearly suffered from PTSD and sexual abuse at the hands of Depp, but instead of help, she received wrath from the public. 

People forget that the internet has an intense impact on how the world viewed Heard, and Depp was unfairly cast as a hero by the media, while Tiktok turned ridiculing Heard into a 'sport.' The fact that people were so quick to defend Depp may have more to do with his appealing charm and body language than the fact that he was 'right.' 

Really, this trial was a major loss for women, as men 'always win' in domestic abuse cases like these, especially when they have money, fame, and power—with Johnny Depp having the upper hand in these categories. Many experts have voiced concern about how this case will impact women, especially in future domestic abuse cases. Amber did her best to be brave, but ultimately, she could not stand against misogyny itself. Sadly, this trial sends a perilous message to women—domestic violence will depend on popularity, and men will be given the benefit of the doubt. 


Luke (No)

The proceedings of the Depp/Heard trial were internationally televised and highly publicized, which allowed the public to scrutinize the event and watch while Heard's allegations of abuse were repeatedly countered by witness testimony. As per the verdict arrived at by the jury, Heard's public accusations of Depp concerning abuse were found to be unsubstantiated. To make matters worse for Heard, evidence brought forth by Depp's legal team indicates that it was Heard who was physically abusive with Depp.  

Heard knowingly making false accusations of abuse while also committing physical abuse herself has likely done more to setback women than any other singular public event in recent memory. It can be expected that Heard's behavior and case will be referenced in many trials to come, where women with actual cases of abuse will now have to endure undue scrutiny and suspicion. 

It is clear from this event and her actions that Amber Heard does not represent women everywhere; rather, she represents herself, which she has done now publicly and poorly. If at least there was some evidence that the jury decided wrongly and with bias against Heard, perhaps the verdict could be considered misogynistic. Still, in fact, the jury sided with Heard on an allegation of defamation that she had put forth, thereby making it difficult to claim any bias within the jury. 

On all major counts, Amber Heard is wrong and has revealed deep selfishness in claiming this final verdict was 'a setback' for women when it was her continued dishonest and malicious behavior that has caused an actual setback.

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