Short Take: Have You Heard?

Johnny Depp was an abused husband. So why did so many women rush to Amber Heard’s side when she claimed to be the abused spouse? Heard called Depp a “monster” who beat and choked her. How could that not be true?

The US actress alleged Depp, 55, left her fearing for her life after he choked her and ripped chunks out of her hair in more than a dozen violent altercations.

The details emerged yesterday as Heard, 32, asked a judge to dismiss a $50 million defamation lawsuit filed by Depp over an article she wrote in The Washington Post in December claiming to be a victim of domestic violence.

Heard jumped on the #MeToo train and pulled the whistle.

Like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim.

Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.

How easy it is to claim to be the victim, and how easy it is to be accepted and adored as the victim.

In recent years, the #MeToo movement has taught us about how power like this works, not just in Hollywood but in all kinds of institutions — workplaces, places of worship or simply in particular communities. In every walk of life, women are confronting these men who are buoyed by social, economic and cultural power. And these institutions are beginning to change.

What “moral” person wouldn’t see these words and cry for Amber Heard? Maybe that “moral” person would be Johnny Depp.

  • Amber Heard admits to ‘hitting’ Johnny Depp in an explosive audio confession from 2015, obtained exclusively by
  • The estranged couple tried to talk through their marriage problems and Heard  opens up about her violent tantrums in a series of taped conversations 
  • ‘Baby, I told you this once. I’m scared to death we are a f**king crime scene right now,’ Depp told his wife
  • She said: ‘I f**king was hitting you… I don’t know what the motion of my hand was, but you’re fine, I did not hurt you, I did not punch you, I was hitting you’
  • The 33-year-old taunts Depp for fleeing the late night dust-up, telling him: ‘You are such a baby. Grow the f**k up’
  • There’s a possible veiled reference to an incident in Australia where Depp suffered a severed finger one month into their marriage 
  • The troubling episode is one of numerous clashes the couple argue over during the informal two-hour ‘therapy’ session recorded consensually on Heard’s phone
  • As part of Depp’s $50m defamation case against Heard, he previously included images of his own bruised and battered face following Heard’s alleged attacks  
  • Heard also accused Depp of attacking her, providing photos of bruises, scars, clumps of hair torn from her head and pictures of smashed furniture

The point isn’t that husbands abuse wives or men abuse women. The point isn’t that women do the same to men. The point isn’t who does it more, worse or harder. The point is that in any given case, with every accusation, the “answer” isn’t to believe the women or presume the man is guilty. The “answer” is to let the facts determine right and wrong, not ideology.

As it turns out, Amber Heard had a temper and was apparently quite violent. Women can have bad tempers and be violent. And women can lie about it, and can write WaPo op-eds playing the useful idiots by proclaiming themselves victims of the Patriarchy. It’s easy enough to do.

But if your initial reaction to unproven allegations was to hate on Depp and cry for Heard, then you got it wrong. And no, your error is not made better because it started a conversation, which it didn’t actually do, even though people are “talking” about it. It’s just as foolish and biased to presume that woman are victims and men are perps, even though this has been going on for a very long time.

6 thoughts on “Short Take: Have You Heard?

  1. Jeff

    I have been deliberately avoiding these articles, because when relationships fall apart publicly, nothing can be relied upon as fact. Everyone slings dirt, and they want to hurt one another in the most spectacular manner. It’s uncomfortable for me, like eavesdropping on a break-up. I wonder the significance of this, whether it’s because Depp has evidence this time, or because they’re both famous. Domestic disputes are not new, and Depp can’t be the first person who is able to prove his allegations.

    With all of that said, it will be very interesting how this is handled in the upcoming days (hours? minutes? How long is the Twitter attention span?), as the #YesAllMen crowd have to address how their perfect victim admitted to instigating violence. Maybe they’ll go full Jezebel and bask in it, because he was a ‘wuss’ for protecting himself

    1. SHG Post author

      Part of the problem is the compulsion to draw broad inferences from individual circumstances. To the extent it proves anything, it’s that it’s not so simple as women good, men bad, but thinking is hard and makes people’s head hurt.

  2. Rendall

    Two only peripherally-related observations:

    Within the last few days I have seen epic, novel-length Twitter threads, written by people with lots of time and energy, presenting exhaustive evidence that Amber Heard had been lying; photos that don’t match up with public statements, bruises on Depp, testimonials from staff and such. But these were written last year and earlier, long before the tape was leaked. It’s interesting that information this was buried so deeply before now.

    Without missing a beat, the Twitterati have “always known” that Depp was innocent, and are already petitioning DC & Warner to remove Heard from Aquaman 2, despite its being this very rush to cancel that nearly ruined Depp’s career. It’s almost as if this situation is particularly delightful to these people because it provides a 2-for-1.

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