Amber Heard Can Be A Liar and A Victim
In case you somehow (I'm not sure how) missed it: Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for defamation after she wrote an op-ed piece describing herself as a victim of domestic and sexual abuse. The case concluded today, after six or seven weeks of bizarre, graphic, disturbing and heartbreaking testimony that revealed that wherever the truth lies, it lies in a pile of toxicity and abuse. I do not believe that Johnny Depp raped Amber, as she claimed. I don't believe he physically assaulted her over the course of five years, as she claimed. But that does not mean she is not a victim of abuse.
Heard's lawyers tried to legitimize her claims of physical abuse and from my view via YouTube, I don't think they did a very good job. There were just too many holes in her claims, including but not limited to an unsettling lack of physical evidence (aka pictures) for some of the most horrific of alleged incidences. Instead, the one picture she offered was that of a questionable bruise on her face. A bruise frankly any high school girl with a make up kit could have created in her bathroom before heading off to a Halloween party. On the many audio tapes, Amber can be heard taunting Depp. Women who are physically abused do NOT taunt their abusers. The last thing a victim of physical domestic violence is going to do is escalate the situation. Additionally, in the infamous "kitchen cabinet" video where Heard records Depp slamming, kicking and punching cabinets, never does he move toward Heard. He is not threatening to her and she clearly is not afraid of him. I worked at a shelter for victims of domestic violence: when a physically abusive man starts such a rampage, his partner knows full well she is after the cabinets. Few stand there and watch his fury unfold. So no, I do not believe Amber Heard was physically assaulted by Johnny Depp.
But that doesn't mean abuse did not occur. It's been a hard fight to get domestic violence recognized as a legitimate crime and threat to (mostly) women. Verbal abuse? Emotional abuse? We are light years behind on bringing that into the forefront of our collective consciousness. Johnny Depp said and wrote some of the most horrific and horribly horrible things a man could say and write about his wife or partner. Deeply disturbing, humiliating, demoralizing things. He called her a "worthless hooker." Said he'd "slap the cunt around" and "joked" with a friend, "Let's drown her before we burn her. I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she's dead." And as the crowds cheered outside the court house at Depp's arrival and the hashtag "amberturd" trended, it's easy to dismiss all this as a bunch of over paid celebrities without any real problems.
But verbal and emotional abuse is a real problem for many of the women married to or in a committed relationship with an alcoholic or addict.
I like Johnny Depp as an actor. But to see these throngs of women standing outside a court of law cheering and yelling "we love you Johnny" to a man who was viscous in his verbal and emotional assault of a woman he loved troubles me deeply. Of course, Heard is no angel. She can be heard on audio recordings (who is making all these audio recordings?!) calling Depp a "fat old man." justifying "hitting" over "punching" him and ridiculing him for "whining" about being hit - not punched. But my question is, which came first?
Depp is a substance abuser and though he has sobriety now, that was not the situation during his years with Heard. Living with an emotional and verbally abusive addict does bad things to you. It rots your soul. It undermines your sense of being. It turns you angry and ugly and...potentially verbally and emotionally abusive yourself.
I live with a verbally abusive addict. I do not fight back with him not because I am "better than" Amber Heard or anyone else but because I have children and I knew I never wanted them to hear BOTH their parents screaming obscenities at one another. Still, I will tell you there have been times when none of my children were home and so I allowed myself to be just as ugly and cruel and verbally abusive. I am not proud of it. I don't justify it. And whatever satisfaction I got in the moment was short lived and fleeting compared to the disgust I felt afterwards regarding my own behavior.
But Heard and Depp didn't have children in the house. Not regularly anyway. Or maybe Heard has a background or history that left her susceptible to her inflicting her own verbal assaults on someone she loved. I don't know. What I do know is that for the past six or seven weeks, the world has vilified a woman - while canonizing her male perpetrator - who is clearly the victim of verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of an addict.
I watched Heard in her final testimony. She pleaded about how humiliating and horrible this experience has been. She cried about wanting to move on with her life. She told of the experience of being boo-ed and seeing the most horrific things being written about her on a daily basis. As I watched her, I thought that the possibility of her committing suicide would be a legitimate concern.
Verbal and emotional abuse is not the skinned-knee to the broken bones of physical abuse. The pain is real. The threat is real. The damage is real. And though I find Heard's credibility lacking when it comes to Depp physically or sexually abusing her, there is no question that he verbally and emotionally abused her. In my opinion, that's the op-ed she needed to write. That's the op-ed I wish she had written. The verdict is still out as to the outcome of this trial but in the court of public opinion, it's clear Depp has already won. What does this say about our attitudes regarding verbal and emotional abuse inflicted on women and the men who inflict it?