Johnny Depp, Amber Heard trial: What makes a ‘good’ victim?

As Johnny Depp’s trial becomes increasingly harrowing, footage of Amber Heard in an elevator with James Franco has revealed an uncomfortable truth.

For five weeks, the world has watched as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard painted a harrowing picture of their four-year affair.

Inside the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia, as part of the $50 million defamation lawsuit that pirates of the Caribbean star launched against his ex-wife in response to a 2018 Washington Post opinion piece in which she did not name him, but identified herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse”: the intimate details in the testimonies of both actors have become increasingly tense, gruesome and violent.

But it’s the coverage and reaction to the trial, particularly since the 36-year-old took the stand on May 4, that has become just as troubling, if not more so, than Heard and Depp’s relationship itself.

The aquaman The star has been accused of lying, has become the butt of jokes as hashtags like #MePoo and #AmberTurd circulate on social media, and her mental health has been used to undermine her credibility.

Photos of her bruised face, split lip and strands of her blonde hair on the floor of the former couple’s bedroom have left the public largely unmoved.

Here’s a woman recounting, in graphic detail, how an extremely famous man allegedly abused her. Why, in 2022, do so many people seem to hate her for it?

Heard has never claimed to have behaved perfectly in her relationship with Depp, whom she met on the set of the rum diary in 2009. And it is this, that she is not, in the eyes of the world, a “good” victim, which has contributed to “an overwhelming sense of community doubt and mistrust about the veracity and validity of [Heard’s] claims,” Hayley Foster, CEO of Full Stop Australia, told news.com.au.

The “predominant idea is that real victims, deserving victims, are meek, gentle, helpless and subservient,” explained Ms Foster.

“But usually this is not the case. In real life, people affected by domestic and sexual violence are just like you and me. We would do a variety of things to protect ourselves and fight to regain our power if we were under threat.”

“Sometimes we freeze. Sometimes we try to escape. Sometimes we defend ourselves. But fighting back doesn’t make you the main aggressor. At the heart of domestic and sexual violence is the abuse of power. There has to be an imbalance of power and the exploitation of that power. And in almost every case, there is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

“Those who have been in a domestic abusive relationship describe feeling dominated, overwhelmed, confused and scared. Your sense of self erodes. But a part of them fights against this and seeks to reaffirm that self. Sometimes this involves retaliatory action.”

The notion that Heard is not a “good” victim was further reinforced for some this week when CCTV footage of her and James Franco inside an elevator was released the night before she filed for divorce from Depp.

“This is due to our victim-blaming and bitch-shaming tendencies. Again, because we think of victims as subservient, helpless and powerless, we may be suspicious if the alleged victim falls short of this ideal,” said Ms. Foster.

“We still have a culture that greatly celebrates men’s promiscuity but shames women for this same behavior. It’s a double standard, and one deeply embedded at that.

“In fact, in Australia, almost a third of people often think that women who say they were raped simply cheated on the man and later regretted it.”

speaking to Refinery 29Australian reporter and author Lucia Osborne-Crowley, who has written two books on sexual assault, said that “public expectations of how she must behave in order to be believed … should not feed if her accusations are proven true in a court of law: the evidence must do that.”

“I think it’s important to remember that her story should be criticized on its own merits, not based on ideas about how ‘real’ victims should behave. It also contributes to the myth that a person has to be good or moral to have been subjected to domestic abuse,” he explained.

“A lot of the nasty criticism I’ve seen is about Heard as a person, but the truth is that she may be morally reprehensible in every other way and she may still be telling the truth.”

As the trial continues, Ms Foster said she is “really concerned about the message that feelings of blaming the victims and shaming the prostitutes are sending, both to the victims of domestic and sexual violence and to the perpetrators.” .

“My fear is that the victims feel that they cannot speak or try to defend themselves,” he added, “and that is not good for eradicating gender-based violence.”

Originally published as What Amber Heard’s James Franco’s Night Visit Exposed

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