Heard has accused her former husband of domestic violence
Amber Heard, who accused her former husband, the actor Johnny Depp, of domestic violence earlier this year, is now using her platform to try to help other women who are suffering from the same kind of abuse.
In a powerful PSA released Friday by the #GirlGaze Project, Heard speaks plainly and sometimes emotionally about her alleged experience with domestic violence and sends a message of support to current victims. With just a camera, no effects, and no music, Heard voices the feelings of many survivors of abuse, saying “How could this be happening to me? I’m strong. I’m smart.” Many women in violent relationships are ashamed of what’s they’re going through, and think that they will be judged if they share what is happening. Unfortunately, this thought is not without merit — after all, how often do we hear people ask, “Why didn’t he/she just leave?” As if a) the responsibility for ending the abuse is the victim’s, and b) the victim is either not very bright or they’re not very capable if they won’t make the “obvious” choice and end the relationship. Heard’s words go directly to that issue — there’s nothing wrong with you, there’s something wrong with them, and “just leaving” is rarely that easy.
Heard takes the usual victim-blaming and shows how flawed it is with the following example: “When it happens in your home behind closed doors with someone you love, it’s not as straightforward…If a stranger did this it would be a no-brainer.” It’s worth asking ourselves, as a culture, why we expect strangers to treat us better than the people we love.
Victim-blaming is something Heard knows all too well. After coming out with accusations of abuse against her then-husband, Heard received enormous backlash from the public — in particular, from Depp’s many fans. Commenters on social media called her a liar, claimed she caused her own bruises, and said that she was only making these accusations so she could go after more of Depp’s money in their divorce. Heard, meanwhile, quietly settled her divorce case and then, in August, donated every penny of her $7 million settlement to charity.
Now, Heard is trying to get the word out to other victims of domestic violence that “this doesn’t have to be the way it is, [and] you don’t have to do it alone. You’re not alone.” She encourages victims to “tell someone safe” and “choose yourself.” She is choosing to use her voice to continue to raise awareness of domestic violence and to remind us all that we have the power to make our culture safer for victims of domestic violence. “We can change this,” she says in the video. “It’s about how we talk about it in the media and in our culture…We need to take responsibility for how we talk about these things. It’s the only way that people are going to feel comfortable coming forward, raising their voices, and standing up for themselves — if we change the system that keeps them quiet.”
Word, Heard. Word.
If you need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline or contact a shelter in your area.
If you have a friend who is suffering from domestic violence, the UK’s national hotline has some good tips on their website for how to help them.