After the judgement in the defamation lawsuit involving Amber Heard and her ex-husband Johnny Depp was rendered five months ago, more than 130 feminist leaders, including Gloria Steinem and Women’s March Action, published an open letter in Amber Heard’s defence.
We denounce Amber Heard’s public humiliation and stand with her in defence. We support the right of everyone to report intimate partner and sexual assault without fear of intimidation or harassment, the letter stated.
In a high-profile defamation trial between Depp and Heard in June, the jury overwhelmingly supported Depp. The case arose from an opinion piece Heard wrote for the Washington Post in December 2018 in which she claimed she had become “a public figure symbolizing domestic abuse.”
Although Depp was not mentioned in the op-ed, he claimed that Heard had abused him and that her charges were part of an “elaborate fabrication to generate positive attention.” Depp’s legal representatives argued that the op-ed alluded subtly to abuse claims Heard had made following their 2016 divorce.
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Following a protracted trial, the jury decided to award Depp $5 million in punitive damages and $10 million in compensatory damages. Heard, who had countersued Depp for harassing her and launching a “smear campaign” against her, received a $2 million compensatory damage award but no punitive damages.
“We cannot silence victims by using courts and lawsuits as a way to retraumatize them, because this is what’s happening.” -National NOW President @ChrisFNunes. Read more on @NBCNews here: https://t.co/g1HyGWQtSl
— National NOW (@NationalNOW) November 16, 2022
When it comes to defending the fundamental right of free speech, we view the jury’s verdict to borrow a well-known remark not “as the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning,” according to a representative for Heard, who talked with ABC News about the decision in August.
Depp is challenging the $2 million in compensatory damages he was ordered to pay Heard, and both Heard and Depp have since moved to appeal the judgement, prolonging their legal dispute. Each appeal is still pending.
Depp and Heard traded accusations of abuse during the trial’s many weeks as they testified separately, each disputing the allegations made by the other. The prosecution provided observers with a glimpse into the renowned couple’s marriage, including the charges of abuse, and it created a flurry of vitriolic online rumours.
“The response to this trial has only highlighted why so many survivors remain silent. In a news release announcing the letter’s publishing, Bell Abesti, an organizer of Wednesday’s open letter who went by a pseudonym as a survivor of abuse, said: “We fear ostracism and harassment from others as well as retaliation from the individual who attacked us.
After reading what happened to Amber Heard online, some women, according to Abe, “have thought twice about reporting,” she continued. According to the open letter, a woman’s claims of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment, explicitly addressing the “harassment” Heard experienced online throughout the trial. It blamed it on “disinformation, misogyny, biphobia, and a monetized social media environment.”