In one of the most famous and public trials between a divorced couple to date, all eyes were on Johnny Depp and Amber Heard – two Hollywood actors who were once in love, claiming the other had committed violence against them.
But the jury’s mixed verdict was overwhelmingly in Depp’s favor and the court of public opinion seemed overwhelmingly on the side of the actor best known for playing a mischievous but lovable pirate in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. internet super sleuths and influencers went to great lengths to dismantle Heard’s testimony in support of Depp.
But advocates for domestic violence survivors called the whole trial a show, causing more harm than good and saw no reason to celebrate at its conclusion. Instead, they warned that the course of the trial – and its outcome – had hurt the cause of ending domestic violence and helping its victims.
Michelle Sacks, director of training at the Houston Area Women’s Center, said coverage of the trial was unmissable — seen everywhere, from cellphone screens to televisions in doctors’ offices, to newspapers and magazines in checkouts. grocery stores. For some survivors of domestic violence, this served as a trigger – especially for those considering telling their story for the first time.
“I’m sure it stirred up a lot of emotions. So if you think about survivors who have tried to heal in private — that can definitely, you know, trigger a traumatic reaction sometimes,” she said.
She said she hoped the outcome of the trial would not affect those who wanted to tell their own stories.
“Just because the jury decided that way doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I think it’s really important to get the message out – just to believe someone who might tell you something And if you know someone is in trouble, just tell them they didn’t deserve it, it’s not their fault and that services are available. It doesn’t have to be anything. current thing.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women and one in nine men experience serious domestic violence, while one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence from a partner. respondent.
Some online commentators on the track suggested both sides were wrong and blamed it on a deeply toxic relationship, where the blame should be shared equally. But Sacks said abuse in relationships isn’t always that simple.
“I will tell you right now that there is always, always a main aggressor. So sometimes what we see is that while there may be some kind of violence on both sides, you may have the main [aggressor] and that the secondary only responds to what is happening.
“It’s not easy trying to figure this out. I am not saying that there is this magic formula. It certainly takes a lot of work to try to figure it out.
Marta Prada Peláez, executive director of Family Violence Prevention Services in San Antonio, Texas, said it’s important to consider power dynamics. This power could be determined by who is physically taller, or more famous, or richer.
“Johnny Depp is the Pirate of the Caribbean. He is [Edward] In silver hands. He’s an adorable monster. There’s an element of sympathy that you develop because the character was made to do this to you emotionally. So I think he exploited that. In a relationship where there is domestic violence, there can never be two aggressors or two victims. It doesn’t happen. It’s not domestic violence. Domestic violence has only one attacker.
Despite his best efforts to avoid trial, Peláez called it a pointless spectacle in which there were no winners and the only losers were victims of domestic violence.
She said she hoped the trial would not affect survivors or set them back emotionally and remember that this was a trial that determined whether someone had been defamed, not whether. someone had been physically abused or not.
“We cannot allow victims to fall back on any intent to seek help and seek resources just because it happened. It will be more difficult.
“They already lack confidence in the system. All systems have failed time and time again.