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What. A. Mess. The drama seems never ending. Every single time I open my computer I see yet another development in the perpetually tragic saga of the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp split. Yes, this is largely due to Heard’s claims of abuse, and yes, they are a very high profile celebrity couple that is bound to come under public scrutiny in light of a separation – but does this give us the right to demonstrate our opinion surrounding domestic violence? When you take a step back, this is a very interesting case of celebrity public influence. This voyeuristic account of he-said-she-said domestic violence has since fueled a conversation about the issue (and so-called ‘story’) at hand that can only be heightened by the influence of Heard and Depp themselves.

Just this past week we have seen abuse claims, a restraining order, friends and family weighed-in on what did and didn’t happen, fans weighed-in on what did and didn’t happen, lawyer’s statements, apparent blackmail, individual public ‘team’ statements… It is exhausting just reading about it all in one sentence. The ugliness is escalating on an extreme his-camp-her-camp level – and the whole world is privy to it. Is this a bad thing? For Heard and Depp, uh YAH (sorry guys). For the public? I don’t think so. What is clearly a shit-fight of a relationship burning to the ground has provided an insightful and influential platform for the world to talk about domestic violence, in all it’s forms, from the so-called crazy accuser, to the harsh reality of an abusive relationship.

To begin, there is the so-called crazy accuser.

It blows my mind that fans (and typically the media) are putting Heard’s accusations to rest by calling bullshit. So much so, that she felt she needed to publicly stand up for herself. Just today, Heard’s lawyers released a statement obtained by the New York Post announcing that she was “forced” to go to the police to report the said violence in response to Depp’s team spreading “vicious, false and malicious allegations” designed to discredit her. What were these malicious allegations? We all remember the Depp team statement we have read upteen times: “Given the brevity of this marriage and the most recent and tragic loss of his mother, Johnny will not respond to any of the salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies about his personal life. Hopefully the dissolution of this short marriage will be resolved quickly.” I mean holy moly, that is one harsh account of the situation – and by the by, it pushed the actress to go to the police to tell “her side of the story,” picking up a restraining order in the meantime.

“In domestic violence cases, it is not unusual for the perpetrator’s playbook to include miscasting the victim as the villain,” Heard’s team released their refuting statement. “In reality, Amber acted no differently than many victims of domestic violence, who think first of the harm that might come to the abuser, rather than the abuse they have already suffered.”

amber heard bruise

“We took the high road,” they continued. “Unfortunately, Johnny’s team immediately went to the press and began viciously attacking Amber’s character.”

Most significantly, we have the harsh reality of an abusive relationship.

This concept of the falsified victim is one in which the public, and Depp’s team, must tread very lightly. It also ignites a discussion about what it means to be a victim suffering through domestic violence, and has encouraged many individuals to come forward to share their own experiences. My opinion? The celebritized ‘victim’ has been treated disgustingly here. Sure, Heard may be making the whole thing up, as implied by Depp’s team, ex-girlfriends and family, but if she isn’t? Shame on those who choose not to understand, or see both sides just because we are talking about Captain Jack Sparrow. According to crisis centre Safe Horizon, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during their lifetimes. Further, more than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners. Who are we to make assumptions about what did and didn’t happen in this relationship?

He-said-she-said aside, domestic violence is a very serious issue. In the United States, nearly 3 women are killed each day, and for 75% of those victims this happens in their attempt to leave the relationship or after it has ended. This is NOT a Page 6 story, this is a horror story millions of women are living in right now. Yes, the never-ending and highly publicized drama behind this split has sparked a huge discussion about the credibility of Heard, but whether Depp is at fault or not, why aren’t we talking about the real issue at hand? This is not about a public fight or disagreement between two people. It is about an attitude that has been ingrained in society to change the conversation concerning a victim of domestic violence. It’s up to everyone to speak up – the fame of the couple involved should simply fuel a more positive public discussion about change.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call 800-621-HOPE (4673).

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