Amber Heard saw, ‘in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse’

Premiere of Aquaman

Amber Heard has written a Washington Post op-ed about domestic violence, Me Too, and the culture of victim-shaming and victim-blaming that happens when women do come forward to tell their stories. Amber was abused by Johnny Depp before and during their marriage. I now believe that Amber’s “second thoughts” about marrying Depp were because she had already seen behind the mask and he had already shown her his violent side. But she did what so many women do: she believed he would change, she believed that it was just that one time, that he would never hurt her again. I always think about this too: Amber tried to settle their divorce quietly, without going public about the abuse, and he refused and started smearing her in the press. Then when she talked about the abuse, the smear campaign went into overdrive. You can read Amber’s full WaPo op-ed here, and here are some highlights:

Like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim. Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.

Friends and advisers told me I would never again work as an actress — that I would be blacklisted. A movie I was attached to recast my role. I had just shot a two-year campaign as the face of a global fashion brand, and the company dropped me. Questions arose as to whether I would be able to keep my role of Mera in the movies “Justice League” and “Aquaman.” I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.

Imagine a powerful man as a ship, like the Titanic. That ship is a huge enterprise. When it strikes an iceberg, there are a lot of people on board desperate to patch up holes — not because they believe in or even care about the ship, but because their own fates depend on the enterprise.

In recent years, the #MeToo movement has taught us about how power like this works, not just in Hollywood but in all kinds of institutions — workplaces, places of worship or simply in particular communities. In every walk of life, women are confronting these men who are buoyed by social, economic and cultural power. And these institutions are beginning to change.

We are in a transformative political moment. The president of our country has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct, including assault and harassment. Outrage over his statements and behavior has energized a female-led opposition. #MeToo started a conversation about just how profoundly sexual violence affects women in every area of our lives. And last month, more women were elected to Congress than ever in our history, with a mandate to take women’s issues seriously. Women’s rage and determination to end sexual violence are turning into a political force.

….I write this as a woman who had to change my phone number weekly because I was getting death threats. For months, I rarely left my apartment, and when I did, I was pursued by camera drones and photographers on foot, on motorcycles and in cars. Tabloid outlets that posted pictures of me spun them in a negative light. I felt as though I was on trial in the court of public opinion — and my life and livelihood depended on myriad judgments far beyond my control. I want to ensure that women who come forward to talk about violence receive more support. We are electing representatives who know how deeply we care about these issues. We can work together to demand changes to laws and rules and social norms — and to right the imbalances that have shaped our lives.

[From The Washington Post]

I appreciate how she takes her own story and puts into context of how institutional male privilege and institutional sexism/misogyny work. Amber lost work because she accused her powerful husband of physically and emotionally abusing her. Amber lost friends, she lost her reputation as a professional, she lost money and she lost time. She’s right – there absolutely should be more institutional support for victims of abuse, assault and harassment.

Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Aquaman"

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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32 Responses to “Amber Heard saw, ‘in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse’”

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  1. Roux says:

    And still so many people choose to believe Johnny Depp. I really feel for her and every other woman who has been through this.

    • Pandy says:

      Initially, I believed that she was exaggerating her claims against him to get a grab of his $$$ and get out of the marriage. Once she donated her settlement, I had to think differently …
      While I think she can definitely be up her own butt (which was why I didn’t much care for her and so was able to dismiss her complaints), she’s right in what she writes and she’s stayed true to what she says. I owe her an apology !!! So Amber, if you are reading this … I’m so sorry I was part of the problem rather than the solution.

      • shocked-and-appalled says:

        With great respect, what is problematic about your view is that woman typically get SO MUCH grief from coming forward against famous, powerful men and the penalties are so high,…. that settlement, even if she got it, wouldn’t have made up for losing films, global campaigns, death threats, not being able to leave your house, etc. Her advisors would’ve known that and she did it anyhow to make a point. It shouldn’t have taken turning down the money for you to want to take a second look at Depp. I appreciate your apology… hopefully you’ll think twice in future before giving into knee jerk instincts because you don’t like someone’s public image.

    • elo320 says:

      I would REALLY like to know the name of this “global fashion brand”. Hope it gets leaked.

    • anna says:

      Damned liars! Depp never beat her
      Amber Heard is a absolute sociopath.
      And you will find a special place in hell,of course.

  2. Peanutbuttr says:

    I was looking on twitter to see Aquaman reviews and I saw a bunch of Depp stans, mostly women, trashing Amber and pushing the “she lied” narrative.

    Btw, I managed to see Aquaman last week and Amber actually wasn’t terrible. Hopefully Aquaman does better than fantastic beasts in the box office. .

  3. DOMINCKO says:

    And that is exactly what the media is doing to Angie attacking and smearing her instead of asking why Brad is not off the hooks with child care monitoring smh

    • Dulce says:

      Thank you for posting this!! I’m also very angry at the treatment Angie and Amber received by the media!! 😐

      • Booie says:

        Angie and Amber should make a movie together. It would be fun watching a million heads explode.

      • Sara says:

        Exactly! They both went balls to the wall to speak the truth! They didn’t care because they were telling the truth!

  4. MTS says:

    Shameful that brands directed to women, punished a woman because she came out with her story of domestic violence

    Have you seen Depp and his cronies? Not surprised that he, his crazy fans, workers or people related to the companies behind his image, not only tripped over themselves to try to silence her but also that they were making death threats to her

    Good Depp’s plan to blacklist her only worked in the short time and now she’s on the rise.

    • Booie says:

      I used to not believe in Karma but I’m starting to. Aside from her rising you mention, his movies aren’t exactly hot commodities anymore.

    • otaku fairy says:

      I’m curious about which movie dropped her.
      Maybe it shouldn’t be shocking at this point, but I actually was kind of surprised that she had to change her phone number afterward because of harassment and death threats. It wasn’t as shocking (but still sad and scary) to hear this about Christine Blasey Ford getting that kind of treatment from rabid Trump/ Kavanaugh stans. It just goes to show how far some people will go to protect misogyny. Amber’s op-ed is great.

  5. Case says:

    And yet so many act as though she had something to gain by coming forward. She, a relatively small actress, accusing one of the wealthiest, most popular actors in Hollywood, had NOTHING to gain, except the money that she donated to charity. It was immediately clear (to me, at least) that her coming forward would only hurt her, and she did it anyway. It’s why I find her so brave and admire her so much.

    It makes me emotional to read her piece. I loved her abuser for many, many years, but was not surprised by the accusations, nor did I believe him for a second. I’m kinda proud of myself for that, and I have Amber to thank.

  6. Tania says:

    Dragged my husband out on Saturday to see Aquaman (the Prime exclusive showing) and really enjoyed it. Everyone in attendance seemed to and the theater was packed. They even applauded at the end! I hope this is a “new” beginning of Amber. I actually liked her in that role.

  7. Booie says:

    Wishing her success in the future. She’s a solid actress and I think she’ll get better with time. Seems to get along with the other DC stars as well like Gal and Jason from their time on the Justice League promo.

  8. xo says:

    “had just shot a two-year campaign as the face of a global fashion brand, and the company dropped me.”

    Who was this?

  9. me says:

    This. I am in a particular subculture of skydiving and indoor skydiving.. we have a tight knit community globally.

    I was abused (domestic violence -multiple hospital visits) by a well known/famous male skydiver named TJ Landgren in our community. He has a long history of beating his girlfriends and women before me and is a well known abuser at this point but he continues to be supported by our local dropzone where we perform our sport. Many other women came forward this year because of the #metoo movement and they mobilized and emailed and called his sponsors and got him dropped and banned from most dropzones. While most sponsors and dropzones have dropped him, there is still a local dropzone that employs him and they know about the previous incidents of violence against female skydivers in our community but has turned a blind eye it seems or they just dont care about his violent behavior because he makes them money. I have seen men and some women in our community dismiss some of these allegations as “vindictive ex girlfriends.” Because of this, I refused to come forward publicaly and kept my mouth shut in fear of social consequences for speaking out against my ex boyfriend.

    I still see people locally continue to work with him and protect him and it is the most disgusting thing ever. I am outraged that they would stand behind a documented violent serial abuser of women in our skydiver community. He makes them money I guess and its sad to see businesses protect an abuser because he makes them money.And there is the group of people who still idolize him and want to party with him despite what an evil person he is. He is the OJ Simpson of skydiving basically. I think people need to be held accountable for standing behind abusers in any way. At this point, I believe if a person continues to associate with, socialize with or employ a known abuser that this is a form of enabling the abuser to continue to victimize women.

  10. ariel says:

    I mentioned Depp being abusive online somewhere and a commenter swore that his lawyer was going to totally vindicate him the next month in some hearing. Of course, said vindication never came. I wonder if those people are the same kind of people who are SURE the world is ending on a date certain and then when it doesn’t they pretend they never believed it would happen.
    Today, I really hate this world.

    • Yawn says:

      Saw something like this too… apparently Depp is suing the Sun or some other rag like that for calling him a wife beater. He says he has all kinds of evidence to support his claim that HE was the one abused. Very curious as to how all this mysterious “evidence” appears now and was nowhere to be found during their divorce proceedings when court documents were leaked like crazy… I sure hope the Sun subpoenas Amber and she can spill all the tea and Depp can no longer hide behind that NDA (although that hasn’t stopped him from trashing her and calling her a liar in every damn interview he does). Let’s see how that all plays out…

  11. Tiffany :) says:

    I really, really like her Titanic analogy. It is so very true. When you get to the top level of power and influence, no matter what industry, there are TONS of people whose livelihoods are dependent on keeping the ship afloat. At some point, people need to realize that there can be very serious reasons to support a corrupt system, but at the end of the day, the nobility of the excuse does not negate the damage done by the corruption.

    At CBS, at Weinstein Co., at Penn State, at the Catholic Church, (and many other) so many people put their jobs as priority over the abuse of women and children. I hope it haunts them.

    • mtam says:

      Totally agree Tiffany. Her Titanic analogy was great. I’d also like to that the many agents (and the ones i’ve heard of being women) at top hollywood companies that would knowingly sent aspiring actors to predators like Weinstein, basically aiding him in continuing his abuse. It seems it was brought up a few times and then totally swept under the rug. They should be held accountable too, they were totally complicit because it helped them having the Weinstein (etc..) connection.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I completely agree. The agents saw the commissions they’d make, and put that as a priority above their client’s safety. I hope they get called out at some point.

  12. Anon says:

    I was reading a Psychology Today article that conducted research into the response to her allegations. They were clear they were not weighing the evidence in her abuse allegations, just collating data on how people responded. People online were OVERWHELMINGLY angry at Amber and disbelieved her. The next highest percentage were angry at both Depp and Heard, and expressed distaste for their public break up. A small portion believed her. Whether one believes an abuse survivor or not, this research doesn’t lie: the response will be primarily negative and even dangerous. That’s where we are at and that culture needs to shift or we will never end this abuse.