Five months ago, the evidence which led to the Depp v. Heard verdict was largely ignored by many professionals in the fields of intimate partner and sexual violence. The continued vilification of Mr. Depp through major media outlets and the harassment of him and those who have voiced support for him have been relentless.
Much of this harassment was fueled by disinformation, rejection of male survivors, over-simplification of personal power dynamics, and the complicity of major media outlets. High-profile individuals and organizations continue to avoid the loss of revenue, credibility and clout that will inevitably occur when forced to acknowledge the truth about Amber Heard: she is an initiator of domestic violence, has been arrested for domestic violence, and has made demonstrably false allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault. The general agreement that Amber Heard has been subjected to cruelty by a vocal minority of social media has been co-opted by major media and recast as a negative referendum on the fairness of the trial. People who refuse to believe Heard are consistently accused of misogyny, ignorance, and celebrity bias, including many victims of domestic violence and sexual assault who see their abuser in Heard, and recognize themselves in Depp.
In our opinion, the Depp v. Heard verdict and continued discourse around it present an opportunity to increase understanding of intimate partner and sexual violence across genders, gender identities, and sexual orientations. Understanding the unusual power dynamics in this case can help experts and professionals to better identify and understand outlier cases that fail to conform to expectation. Experts who insist that the verdict will have damaging consequences strike needless fear into the victims they claim to champion. By thrusting an abusive false accuser on the public, while insisting she is a victim, experts and the media are effectively undermining confidence in movements that are critical to improving how our society views, treats, and supports victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. We have grave concerns about how many experts and media outlets are embracing misinformation at a time when the public desperately needs sources in which they can place their trust.
We condemn the public disinformation that holds up Amber Heard as a representative of victims and survivors of interpersonal and sexual violence. We call on experts, major media, and public figures to commit to complete candor and honesty in all things surrounding Depp v. Heard. We support the ability of all to report intimate partner and sexual violence free of harassment and intimidation, as well as affirm the necessity to place faith in the justice that survivors find in our court and jury system.