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What the Amber Heard Drama Means for the #MeToo Movement

Nicole Smith-Vaniz


June 2, 2022


 


If you’ve opened your computer in the past month, you’ve probably seen a headline slamming Amber Heard. From articles titled Jury saw through Amber Heard's 'cruel' and 'callous' lies, to Tiktok and Youtube videos portraying Heard’s testimonies as comical, Heard has been alienated and ridiculed by the media. Regardless if there is truth behind Heard’s claims, one point must be understood- mocking Amber Heard’s “confessions” contributes to an unwelcoming, daunting atmosphere for innocent individuals who choose to share their stories of domestic abuse.


 Heard’s court trial seeking a lawsuit against Depp for defamation went viral. Heard made various allegations, explaining her experiences with verbal and physical abuse at the whims of Depp. Although a few minor details within these claims were true, the public overwhelmingly found Heard’s testimonies to be ingenuine and riddled with lies. The internet was quick to judge, creating video complications poking fun at Heard. Not only individuals, but corporate companies took a public stance, finding comedic value in Heard’s claims. Heard even started to receive death threats, including comments favoring the death of her child


Whether or not Heard’s claims are faulty, the drama surrounding her must stop. Through spreading drama regarding Heard, the public is instilling more prejudice against those who face domestic abuse. The #MeToo movement will lose power if people begin to associate domestic abuse victims with Amber Heard. The movement has historically been opposed by some who postulate that power-hungry women use #MeToo to take down innocent men. Amber Heard only supports this largely false claim, and by spreading Heard’s poor image, the public is feeding into this stigma against the movement. To create an environment where abuse victims feel they will not be perceived as liars if they seek justice, the publicized stories of domestic abuse should not be those of false claims.


The harassment of Amber Heard can additionally contribute to fears that many innocent abuse victims experience. While the public’s poor treatment of Heard is attributed to the lack of validity in her claims, any abuse victim can be perceived as a false accuser. Even truth-telling abuse victims can be misconstrued and conveyed as liars, especially if their cases target those in power. For example, sixty individuals came forward about their experiences with Bill Cosby yet were blamed and doubted. The difficulty in proving domestic abuse legally is extremely inhibiting. In circumstances of “he said, she said,” the trauma of the abused is frequently swept under the rug or they are sentenced for coming forward. While some say this pattern has changed because of #MeToo, many innocent abuse victims are still being wrongly criminalized through “false reporting”. Although #MeToo started in 2006, in 2015 an 18-year-old woman, Marie, was charged with false reporting after being raped. Marie was put on probation; had to pay fees and even get mental counseling for lying… yet two years later the court discovered evidence proving the woman’s rape. Many domestic abuse victims have faced the same fate as Marie, being perceived as untruthful for having the bravery to seek justice. 


 The potential of being deemed a liar can contribute to why many abuse victims fear telling their stories. As it is plausible that abuse victims could be seen as false accusers, even when telling their truth, abuse victims can fret the consequences of false accuse as well. Therefore, through projecting ideas that demonize liars such as Heard, innocent abuse victims are told that if they are not believed, they could face a future of similar treatment. 


 


It is clear that the choice to spread Heard’s lies impacts more individuals than Amber Heard. It impacts those who experience real abuse. By choosing to publicize stories that emphasize false accusations, rather than justice, the #MeToo movement is weakened for everyone. Not only for liars, but for real abuse victims who fear they will not be believed and meet Heard’s fate. While many argue Heard’s case could be viewed as a triumph for #MeToo, because Depp achieved justice for the abuse he faced, most of what is being publicized does not focus on Depp’s justice. The publicized content largely focuses on taking pleasure in Heard’s downfall, instead of commemorating Depp’s win. To support abuse victims, rather than detract from their reputation and power, content creators should focus on celebrating the victories of the abused such as Johnny Depp, rather than false accusers such as Heard. 


 


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