An open letter from an abuse survivor to the mainstream media covering the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial
Dear mainstream media,
Please shut your teeth.
You heard me: shut your teeth. I’m the survivor of over thirty years of emotional and psychological abuse. The toll this abuse has taken on my mind and body is horrifying, and I will be dealing with its aftermath for years to come. As such, I have a certain perspective when it comes to cases of abuse, and how it is covered.
What I have seen from you is disgraceful and disgusting. I have actually reached the point of being infuriated by it. Recent articles everywhere from CNN (which during cross-examination apparently published only articles about Amber Heard’s allegations against Johnny Depp as thought they were fact, completely ignoring the degree to which they fell apart in the face of police body cameras, recordings of Heard verbally abusing Depp and engaging in abusive coercion and control against him, and basic scrutiny), to The Atlantic (which framed as part of an anti-#MeToo movement the concerns of actual domestic violence survivors regarding what Amber Heard’s actions would do to the ability of others to come forward and seek help) to Buzzfeed (which suggested that Amber Heard was being unjustly tortured prior to being given a redemption arc) to Vox (which equated Amber Heard’s copying of Johnny Depp’s trial clothes — a well known Cluster-B behaviour called “mirroring” — with a conspiracy theory rabbit hole) have a level of bias and ignorance that is utterly disgraceful.
Missing among this is the perspective of people like me — you know, abuse survivors. I suppose this shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. After all, the actual domestic violence survivors were speaking out in places like the comments of YouTube video commentaries, and all the ones I read sided with Johnny Depp.
That shouldn’t be a surprise either. Watching Amber Heard on the stand was to watch an abuser attempt to gaslight a courtroom. We all saw it — we’d all been on the receiving end of similar treatment by our own abusers. We knew what we were looking at. And so, by the way, did the lawyers who were watching, and therapists who deal with Cluster B personalities and their victims, and the body language experts.
Since it’s pretty clear that the authors of these clueless articles have never actually experienced what it’s like to be an abuse survivor, let me give you a hint of what an actual survivor reaction is like: when I am placed in a situation in which there is even a possibility of an interaction with my abusers, I experience deep and abiding fear…and this is over a year after breaking free and going no contact (and being a person trained in four different martial arts, three of which are armed). Speaking as somebody who knows the feeling all too well, here is the reaction of a person who I am certain has never experienced that fear:
And here is a video from a lawyer who has to deal with far too many male domestic abuse victims:
This second video is important, and you need to watch it if you want to write anything on this subject. The message you are right now sending to all the male victims of domestic violence is that you will never believe them. Their abuser can be lying through her teeth in court about things that can be easily verified to be false, and you will treat every single claim she makes as though it is true. Anybody who speaks out on the victim’s behalf you will vilify. You will help their abuser destroy their lives, first from the inside through your silence, and then in the public eye through your bias. That’s the message I received loud and clear, and I doubt I’m the only one.
So, let me finish with a couple of guidelines for those in the mainstream media if you actually want to be helpful to victims and survivors of abuse when it comes to covering this trial:
If you have never experienced abuse, done proper credible research into abuse and Cluster B personality disorders, or done professional work with victims and survivors of abuse, or have at least a legal background, YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO TALK ABOUT THIS TRIAL.
If you have not bothered to at least watch the highlights of both the direct and cross examinations, YOU ARE NOT SUFFICIENTLY WELL INFORMED TO TALK ABOUT THIS TRIAL.
So please, do the right thing for abuse victims and survivors everywhere — leave the coverage to somebody who actually knows what they are talking about.
A survivor of over 30 years of mental abuse