To say I am appalled by the entire spectacle that became of the Depp v. Heard case is a gross understatement. It almost didn't matter what the verdict was, because the damage was already done. It's like #MeToo was a joke. We haven't progressed at all. People treat abuse as a twisted sporting event. But the verdict matters more than you think--if you value free speech. That's why people should care.
But the case also highlighted a multitude of concerns that we should care about and I want to address two of them.
The funny thing is that when the trial first began, I was annoyed that people weren't really talking about it. I thought, this is just another example of the power of a beloved male celebrity. Then when people did start talking about it, it was like a slap in the face, especially as a survivor of abuse (which now I should probably be careful of saying).
And I'm not saying Amber Heard was or wasn't a victim. It's the way people talked about her and the trial that really has me disturbed.
First of all, early in the trial, their therapist took the stand and said that Amber Heard and Johnny Depp's relationship was a toxic one filled with "mutual abuse." That's a really important statement, because abuse isn't black and white. On top of that, "mutual abuse" is not a term that relationship violence experts like, because they believe it diminishes the power and control that is inherent in abusive relationships.
That being said, if ever there was mutual abuse, it seems like this relationship is an example of one. Of course, we could argue that Johnny Depp is the household name. Johnny Depp is the one who in the end is not going to be totally destroyed, no matter what has happened with his franchises or anything else. And I'm frustrated that instead of seeing or trying to understand the complexity of abuse, people have turned it into a sporting game. It's disgusting.
The second thing that's troubling, especially as mental health has been in the headlines again recently, is the fact that people seem to have ignored the fact that their therapist also said Amber Heard has both Borderline and Histrionic Personality Disorders. That's really serious. She not only suffers from one personality disorder but two. Instead of showing concern for her, people largely ripped her apart. What does that say to people struggling with mental health? By overlooking these diagnoses, people aren't taking mental health seriously at all. At a time when we're calling for more mental health care, this is truly ironic and hypocritical.
There are other things that we could dissect about this trial, but there are tons of articles out there that already cover them. Including, as I mentioned--what this trial means for free speech. For everyone yelling about protecting free speech, the verdict here is a strike against free speech. Not to mention, what will this mean for survivors of abuse coming forward in the future? It doesn't look good. We'll be endangering victims and survivors even more. It's outrageous.
Even if you think Amber Heard is a liar. Even if you could care less about this celebrity drama. This trial and the result of it should concern you for all the reasons I've mentioned and more.