I’m quickly growing weary of people defending Johnny Depp.
My mind spins as I try to sleep. Victim-blaming rhetoric bounces around in my brain. The words I read online are the same ones people said to me when I spoke out. Insomnia leads to loss of focus, which then leads to hyper-focus. I drop onto the couch after work and don’t remember most of the day. My brain buzzes with stress, which is especially dangerous for someone with C-PTSD.
One victim-blaming, apologist reply on a tweet (blocked his ass) sent me to a dark place. Did this person read the article? Well, of course not. He read the brief quote but never clicked through, then thought he knew everything it said. Mansplainer. Victim-blamer. Abuse apologist. Gone.
It’s not only triggering, it’s exhausting.
Watching the world say the same, tired things over and over again show us how truly little we’ve progressed, even after #MeToo.
The Myth of the Hysterical Woman
“She’s crazy” — “She’s vindictive” — “She’s unstable” — “She’s hysterical.” Have you noticed that two different psychiatric professionals have diagnosed Amber Heard? Her therapist has seen her for years, has a record of Johnny’s increasingly violent abuse as it unfolded, and has an established relationship with Amber. She diagnosed Amber with PTSD.
Then there’s the psychiatric professional hired by Depp’s team that spent only 12 hours with her and diagnosed her with a Histrionic Personality Disorder, one of the formerly-called Cluster B Personality Disorders, along with Narcissistic, Borderline, and Antisocial Personality Disorders.
Notice anything here?
Where is Depp’s diagnosis? Why hasn’t anyone psychoanalyzed him? Where are the people analyzing his every movement and facial expression?
It’s the same age-old misogynistic bullshit.
The characterisation of her as an arch-manipulator hoping to benefit from false accusations against a wealthy and famous man echoes the enduring myth that women routinely “cry rape” against men for revenge, to attract attention and sympathy, and for self-benefit. In fact, false allegations of sexual violence are extremely rare and most survivors choose not to report rape exactly because they’re worried about not being believed.iNews
The Myth of the Slanderizing Siren
Here is the young, alluring woman who seduces the innocent, highly-privileged man. Her only goal was to further her career and financially gain from his success. Now this “woman scorned” has turned vindictive and is trying to destroy his reputation, his life, his very identity by “crying rape.” Slander! I say SLANDER!
This is a frequent tactic used by perpetrators to silence their victims. The Independent published an amazing article entitled, “Why Do People Blindly Support Johnny Depp? I’ll Tell You Why,” written by a barrister who has seen this tactic play out again and again in domestic abuse cases. Here’s an excerpt:
Both cases in England and the US centre on silencing Heard from speaking about the abuse she says he inflicted on her. I see many victims of domestic abuse being sued for “defamation”, for daring to speak about what their perpetrator did to them.
The world sits in judgment, questioning whether Heard is a “real victim”. Does she look like a victim? Does she speak like a victim? Does she cry like a victim?
Where are the headlines asking if Depp is a perpetrator, judging him on every move that he makes? There are no special measures in court – Depp sits there smiling, while Heard relives abuse and trauma.Charlotte Proudman, The Independent
The Excuse of Mutual Abuse
While it’s obvious that Amber was also abusive, as I’ve said in previous posts here and here, people are using that “mutual abuse” to minimize Depp’s behavior, saying, “SEE! SEE! SEE! She did it too!! Depp is INNOCENT.”
Um. No. He’s not innocent. Not by a long shot.
Because she hit him doesn’t excuse him raping her with a bottle or conducting a “cavity search.” Because she spit on him doesn’t erase that he put cigarettes out on her and beat her.**
As I mentioned in “Gaslighting,” it’s obvious the abuse went both ways, but which was in response to the other? After hearing Amber’s testimony, it’s clear that Johnny not only instigated the abusive relationship, his violence was considerably more brutal.
No. Mutual abuse doesn’t excuse his violence, but the public doesn’t seem to get that. Once again, this speaks to the inherent misogyny and its damaging cultural script.
…it also says something more sinister: that our society doesn’t care about domestic abuse. “So what, he slapped her? She deserved it.” Depp has said it was “mutual abuse”. We are subtly being told that even if he abused her, we should feel himpathy for him (which is inappropriate sympathy towards powerful men who abuse women).
These men, we are taught, shouldn’t be ruined because of transgressions towards women, because women aren’t worth it. Our patriarchal society is sustaining this and using Depp to continue the empathy towards perpetrators and the admonishment of victims.Charlotte Proudman, The Independent
The Need to Control and Punish
People have said that it’s clear Depp is the victim because he won’t look at her while she’s testifying, because victims can’t bear to look at their abusers, which is true. I sure can’t even bear to see their picture or their written names, let alone see them in person … SO THERE! That proves it!! Johnny’s innocent!!
Um. No. That proves fuck all.
Once again: Johnny Depp is an excellent actor. He will make you believe what he wants you to believe, period. Secondly, even after a high court ruled against him in the UK, he’s dragged this apparent abuser he can’t even look at, back into court. This televised trial is an extension of his emotional violence and his continuing attempts to control her.
There’s little doubt he wanted this televised so he could charm America. He knows his fans are behind him (except for the rare former fan, like me). He knows he has the public support as the actor of so many beloved characters. He knows all this will further intimidate and punish Amber. …and he’s right.
It also warns other women not to speak out, because if they do, it will only get worse for them. …and they’re right.
Back to the Victim-Blaming Script
When the trial reconvenes, Amber will be cross-examined by Depp’s team, and I know exactly how it will go…because it’s how it always goes when women are questioned about male violence:
“Why didn’t you leave?”
“Why did you provoke him?”
“Why were you drunk?”
“You were abusive, too, so aren’t you being a hypocrite accusing him?”
“Do you have a history of mental illness?”
These questions blame the victim and render the perpetrator invisible. It’s a tactic that continues to be very effective and persuasive, because it plays on all of the myths we are taught about how abuse works. She lies; he’s a hero.
So, when I see hashtags trending on twitter like, “AmberHeardIsALiar”, I realise how deeply entrenched misogyny is in our society. It doesn’t matter that there is a High Court decision proving that Depp assaulted Heard, it wouldn’t matter if the world watched Depp physically assault Heard in public, people would still support Depp.Charlotte Proudman, The Independent
Frankly, I suspect I won’t be able to watch that part of the trial at all. I remember watching Christine Blasey Ford bravely stand up and tell the word how Brett Kavanaugh raped her. Remarkably poised as she recounted horrors. Brett behaved like a spoiled brat, shouting in anger.
No one said a thing about his erratic behavior. No one called him “hysterical” or “crazy.” No one spend 12 hours with him to come back with a Histrionic Personality Disorder diagnosis. No. Not at all.
Like many other survivors, I was a mess during those hearings, especially because she shares my first name. It was all too easy to put myself in that position, having to go through all the questions and doubts and disbelief all over again.
Her life was ruined for speaking out. Her family became targets of death threats and she got both death and rape threats.
Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court and now will try to control every woman in the country with repealing Roe v. Wade.
Because of course it happened like that, and I suspect nothing will be different about this trial. Amber will be victim-blamed and further traumatized. The public will rally around the charming, handsome Depp screaming how this manipulative shrew tried to ruin his life…
Misogyny Wins Yet Again
Whoever “wins” this trial, the women of our culture have been shown once again that we don’t matter. Of course, we didn’t need this trial to show us that. We need only look at the race to overturn Roe v. Wade. We need only look at the response to this trial. We need only remember this nation elected a serial rapist to the White House in 2016 (and probably will again in 2024). We need only remember that women are being arrested for having a miscarriage and people are getting monetary rewards for turning in women suspected of seeking an abortion. We need only remember Kavanaugh and Cosby and Brock Turner and the countless others, too many to mention here.
As you tune into to watch the trial or comment on social media, remember every single word of this:
No matter who wins the Depp vs Heard trial, the biggest losers will be victims of domestic and sexual violence. The trial and its social media coverage exposes and perpetuates the enduring misogyny towards women who allege assault.iNews
Fellow survivors, protect yourselves. This is triggering stuff, so be sure to keep away from apologists and those that perpetuate these harmful myths. It’s okay to block them from social media. I sure do, and it’s empowering.
Life’s too short to deal with misogynistic assholes.