Depp V Heard: 'We need to hold space for both of them'

Depp V Heard: 'We need to hold space for both of them'

Johnny Depp has lost a bid to overturn a damning high court ruling that concluded he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Following a trial last year, Mr Justice Nicol dismissed the star’s libel claim against the publisher of the Sun, finding that a column published in April 2018 calling Depp a “wife-beater” was “substantially true”.

The actor asked the court of appeal to grant permission for him to challenge the ruling, with the aim of having its findings overturned and a retrial ordered. However, on Thursday the court refused Depp permission to appeal.

Amber Heard deprived of public sympathy for standing against Depp’s abuse

Harper’s Bazaar reports the negative public treatment of Amber Heard when she stood against Johnny Depp’s domestic abuse is proof of the biases that still exist about the type of woman who deserves legal protection, says Helena Kennedy QC. The leading barrister met the actress during the trial period.

Heard was subjected to death threats and misogynistic attacks on social media during the trial in July. Depp lost a legal battle with The Sun.

“There are still these pervasive myths about the kind of woman who deserves the protection of the law,” Lady Kennedy told The Guardian.

“Battered women have to [seem] meek and subservient to have our sympathy.

“I have represented women who have put up with this but when they do resist they somehow [are deemed to] lose their right to [compassion]. There’s no doubt that Amber Heard did … resist but that does not make her certifiable.”

Depp has continued to receive support from both the public and celebrity peers, including JK Rowling, Vanessa Paradis and Javier Bardem, despite Heard’s abuse claims.

Johnny depp amber heard domestic abuse male abuse victims hollywood actors UK high court libel case

All Victims Can Be Perpetrators

Nylah Burton writes audio of Amber Heard allegedly admitting to physically abusing Johnny Depp was released in 2015. In 2016 she filed for divorce, claiming physical abuse throughout their 18-month marriage. Depp filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit, claiming she’d abused him. 

In the audio – Depp seemingly admits that each other inflicted physical abuse on the other, 

“I left last night. Honestly, I swear to you, because I just couldn’t take the idea of more physicality, more physical abuse on each other,” Depp says. 

Elsewhere in the recording Heard also warns Depp, “I can’t promise you I won’t get physical again. God I fucking sometimes get so mad I lose it.”

It appears to be a whirlwind of conflicting accusations and people seem compelled to take sides that are informed by their own perspectives and biases. But it’s critical to resist that societal instinct to minimise, demonise or disregard either of these accounts. 

Johnny depp amber heard domestic abuse male abuse victims hollywood actors UK high court libel case

Giving into the urge to see abuse as a binary – one abuser, one victim – we send the message that we won’t listen to their stories or empathise with their pain. In this case, Depp and Heard’s situation can help us examine the ways we cling to myths of “the perfect victim” and “the typical abuser” to the detriment of all abuse survivors. 

“By accepting that perpetrators of abuse are often victims as well, we can better understand and address the dynamics of interpersonal violence” 

“Acknowledging duality and complexity requires us to admit that we, too, might be capable of inflicting abuse on others—and to recognize that we may have already done so.”

Stigma prevents many male survivors of domestic abuse from coming forward because they think they won’t be believed. There’s a huge difference between defending yourself and instigating violence, but when it comes to male survivors we often can’t recognize the line between them.

Others attempted to use the Depp-Heard example to proclaim that the #MeToo movement is ineffective and morally bankrupt, full of liars and opportunists. As Roslyn Talusan wrote in a recent article for Wear Your Voice, “#JusticeForJohnnyDepp was a misinformation campaign designed to provoke intense reactions and guilt people into supporting him at the expense of Heard.” 

Believing survivors requires us all to hold space for both Heard and Depp, listening to and supporting them both while holding them both accountable. In a culture that often seems incapable of nuance, there’s a persistent need to see victims and perpetrators through an unrealistically narrow lens before acknowledging the harm itself. 

Our society has not yet accepted that women can inflict horrible wounds and still be horribly wounded themselves. 

Johnny depp amber heard domestic abuse male abuse victims hollywood actors UK high court libel case

Why Isn’t Warner Firing Amber Heard As They Did Johnny Depp?

GeekCulture says even by Hollywood’s standard, Depp and Heard’s four-year divorce case is an ugly back and forth filled with violence and abuse. 

They got married in 2015 in a private ceremony but Heard filed for a divorce a year later, accusing Depp of domestic abuse, usually while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Depp denied the charges and a police investigation found no evidence of such. The divorce finally went through in 2017.

In 2017, Depp was cast in J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts. The backlash was immediate, and with reason.

Fantastic Beasts director David Yates and author Rowling defended Depp swiftly, pointing out that the police investigation and the joint letter Heard and Depp put out describing their relationship as “intensely passionate and at times volatile” were proof enough that Depp was innocent of any wrong-doing.

Depp launched a libel case against The Sun after they published an article calling him a ‘wife beater’. After a gruelling two years, Depp lost the case. The loss caused a blow to Depp’s public image and Depp was removed from the film, prompting many to ask – “What about Amber Heard?” 

“What about Amber Heard?” 

So what about Amber Heard? Well, in the last few years, the case between Heard and Depp has revealed to be a complex and muddy one. Whilst the public believe Heard, the female lead in Aquaman, to be a victim of domestic violence, we cannot ignore the audio evidence that suggests she was a perpetrator too. 

Fans pushed for Heard’s removal from the upcoming sequel, Aquaman 2. A petition – which currently has over 1.4 million signatures – was made calling on Warner to remove her from the film, as they did for Depp too.

It seems equitable that the two step down – for the sake of their own healing too – but it is much trickier than that. A studio can’t typically break contracts with an actor unless criminal charges have been filed against them.

Public opinion may have found Heard also guilty of abuse but unless Depp files a civil suit against Heard and proves to the satisfaction of an American court that she lied about him abusing her or that she distorted his acts of self-defence as abuse, it is likely that Heard will remain as Jason Momoa’s co-star in Aquaman 2. 

One should also sit back and reflect if Depp would still have been asked to leave Fantastic Beasts if he had won the case against The Sun. With the way Hollywood functions, the chances are close to zero. 

Johnny depp amber heard domestic abuse male abuse victims hollywood actors UK high court libel case

Why those Amber Heard headlines are so dangerous

Jess Phillips has underlined the big problem with the tabloids’ coverage of the Johnny Depp libel trial.

The tabloid coverage of Johnny Depp’s libel case saw headlines cobbled together from witness statements – all have been designed to shock and titillate viewers and run the risk of reducing serious allegations of domestic abuse to clickbait headlines.

“Sensational claims of violence, drug binges, and bizarre bedroom pranks – as Johnny Depp circus lands in UK High Court… now THAT’S a Hollywood blockbuster!” reads one such headline.

The impact of these “inappropriate” headlines has already been felt on social media, where the conversation around Depp’s libel case is focused almost entirely upon whether or not his ex-wife, Amber Heard, was lying when she previously accused him of abuse.

Writing for The Independent, Phillips – who was recently appointed the Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding – notes:

“Heard’s character seems to be on trial, when she had absolutely no part in bringing this case or any other case forward…

“She is merely a witness in the trial and has no control over what the fallout might be, her life laid bare because of a fight between two other parties.”

Phillips goes on to explain that the tabloids’ “character assassination of Heard” leans too far towards the “old tropes about domestic abuse that campaigners like me have tried for years to combat.”

“We are invited to hear claims about how much she drank, what a difficult personality she had, how she used to start arguments, as if any of this is relevant to the question of whether Depp ever abused her,” the MP continues. “It isn’t.”

Phillips adds: “I don’t know what happened in the glamorous homes of Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. It doesn’t really matter what you believe in this case; fundamentally, someone’s poor character traits or their likeliness to drink do not mean they cannot be abused. Abused women are not all one type of perfect picture of victimhood who would incite sympathy from everyone they met.”

Phillips finishes her essay by noting: “Whatever the conclusion and whatever the truth in the case of Johnny Depp vs The Sun, none of us will ever truly know what happened. What I don’t want to happen is that the reporting on this case sends a message to victims of abuse in this country that no one will believe them unless they are a squeaky clean, Shirley Temple type and their perpetrator is a raging monster hated by all.

“We have fought too long and too hard to reset some of these mindsets in our justice system and in our culture. Let’s not go back.”

Go Deeper into the story

Johnny Depp refused permission to appeal ‘wife beater’ article ruling that he assaulted Amber Heard – Sky News 

Inside the Johnny Depp court case – BBC News

All the disgusting things Amber Heard did to Johnny Depp – Film Daily 

Johnny Depp’s defeat in libel case hailed by domestic violence charities – The Guardian 

Johnny Depp & The Stigma Against Male Domestic Violence Victims – The Mycenaean

Quick Facts

Who is Johnny Depp?

John Christopher Depp II (born June 9, 1963) is an American actor, producer, and musician.

Johnny Depp age

John Christopher Depp II was born June 9, 1963 (age 57)

Johnny Depp net worth 

$150 Million

While Depp’s net worth reportedly has taken a hit as his net worth was an extra $50 million ($200 million total) some years prior to his lawsuit, everyone would be remiss to think or say that he is down on his luck these days.


Who is Amber Heard? 

Amber Laura Heard (born April 22, 1986) is an American actress.

Amber Heard net worth 

Amber’s net worth stands at $9 million, according to

Amber Heard Aquaman

If the latest report is to be believed, then it looks like Amber Heard’s role as Mera in Aquaman 2 is safe for the time being. – CinemaBlend


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