Depp’s verdict could have a chilling effect on victims of domestic violence: NPR

Depp’s verdict could have a chilling effect on victims of domestic violence: NPR


A jury has awarded actor Johnny Depp more than $10 million in his libel suit against his ex-wife Amber Heard. Advocates for victims of domestic abuse say the verdict will have ripple effects.

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A jury has awarded actor Johnny Depp more than $10 million in his libel suit against his ex-wife Amber Heard. Advocates for victims of domestic abuse say the verdict will have ripple effects.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Even before the verdict was released, the six-week trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard had ramifications beyond the courtroom. Experts have warned that anti-feminist groups are using the trial to mobilize and that defamation suits are being used to silence domestic abuse survivors. Now that a jury has sided with Depp, lawyers say the verdict could have a chilling effect on other survivors seeking to expose their attackers.

“This just adds another hurdle to what victims and survivors have to deal with as they figure out how to get the support and safety they need,” said Ruth Glenn, President and CEO. of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Although there is no way to measure this, Glenn said there is an ongoing and cumulative effect of silencing survivors when a case of domestic violence is presented as entertainment. “It could be any number of things. It could be ‘I watched that trial. My family will laugh at me or make fun of me or not understand me. fear of being accused of defamation.

“You already face fear. You want to come forward and ask for help.” But, she added, “there’s an element of ‘will I be believed?'”

The lawsuit itself was on a 2018 op-ed that Heard wrote for The Washington Post, where she wrote that after becoming “a public figure representing domestic violence”, she “felt the full force of our culture’s anger for women speaking out”.

The piece has now been edited with an editor’s note, noting the three specific sentences Heard was held responsible for.

The six-week trial was broadcast live and offered detailed and difficult insight into their relationship. Depp said the Job The article ruined her reputation in Hollywood and testified that it was Heard who was the aggressor in the relationship. He described an instance where she threw a bottle at him, which cut his hand. Heard said Depp was regularly jealous and angry, and testified that he once sexually assaulted her.

As the drama unfolded in the courtroom, it drew millions of live viewers. On top of that, there was a deluge of accounts on YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, and more recapping the ins and outs of the lawsuit, often portraying Heard as a liar — both as part of the actual content and in the comments. .

“The trial has devolved into a public orgy of misogyny,” Guardian columnist Moira Donegan wrote. “While most of the vitriol is theoretically directed at Heard, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that in reality it’s directed at all women – and especially those of us who have spoken out against gender abuse. and sexual violence at the height of the #MeToo movement.”

According Variety, it is rare for a trial to be televised in Virginia. In this case, Judge Penney Azcarate called to allow the cameras due to the massive number of media requests she was receiving. There was a certain spectacle in all of this. And everyone, including domestic violence survivors, has seen it happen.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, use a safe and contact help. This may include a local shelter, or calling 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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