In the wake of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s highly scrutinised defamation trial, a number of organisations, experts and figures have joined together to raise alarms about its “damaging consequences” and “condemn the public shaming” of Heard. The open letter features over 130 signatures from the likes of feminist Gloria Steinem and actor Constance Wu, alongside the likes of Refuge - a charity which supports victims of domestic violence - and Women’s March.
Titled “An Open Letter in Support of Amber Heard,” the letter begins, “Five months ago, the verdict in the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard deeply concerned many professionals in the fields of intimate partner and sexual violence.”
It stated that heard had been vilified and that both Heard and those who supported her had faced “ongoing online harassment…unprecedented in both vitriol and scale.”
The letter continued, “Much of this harassment was fuelled by disinformation, misogyny, biphobia, and a monetized social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment.”
Depp launched a defamation suit against Heard over a Washington Post op-ed she wrote, where she did not mention Johnny Depp by name but identified as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Claiming that he had lost work as a result of the op-ed, Depp later won the case and $15 million in damages. (Heard has since filed an appeal.) Heard also won $2 million for her own countersuit, in which a jury ruled Depp’s lawyer had defamed the Aquaman star.
Over the course of the trial, it became a trending topic amongst social media users worldwide. It found a strong foothold on platforms such as TikTok, where users shared their opinions, updates from the trial and Heard was widely mocked or questioned by users for her domestic abuse allegations.
“In our opinion, the Depp v. Heard verdict and continued discourse around it indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of intimate partner and sexual violence and how survivors respond to it. The damaging consequences of the spread of this misinformation are incalculable,” the letter continued.
Co-sign https://t.co/LkUAcH8J8KNovember 16, 2022
The letter finished, “We condemn the public shaming of Amber Heard and join in support of her. We support the ability of all to report intimate partner and sexual violence free of harassment and intimidation.”
This is not the first time experts have spoken out regarding the impact of Depp and Heard’s case, with the #MeToo organisation writing its own powerful statement this May.
The statement, which was released amidst the trial proceedings, read, “Over the last six weeks, we have been confronted with the mockery of assault, shame and blame. Countless headlines proclaiming the death of #MeToo. News stories full of click bait, and the endless ridicule of survivors that followed.
“What we experienced in the Depp-Heard trial is a case study for how social and political movements get misused and weaponized against the very people it's meant to serve,” it continued.
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