OPINION: Heard-Depp verdict is a glimpse of hope for male victims


Photo courtesy of Gabbot (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp captured at the premiere of Black Mass.

Temper, manipulation, power and control. The defining characteristics of an abuser have never specified gender. Yet society has long viewed abuse as binary: a strong masculine abuser and a weak female victim. But standing at 5’10, Johnny Depp took the stand and claimed to be a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of his ex-wife Amber Heard. Despite past trends of disbelief, this notion shifted. 

In 2018, Amber Heard published an Op-ed in the Washington Post, claiming to be a victim of domestic and sexual abuse, alluding to Depp as her abuser. She was immediately swarmed with support in the heart of the #MeToo movement. But as the libel and defamation cases rose and evidence made its way into the public eye, almost all support came to a halt. Social media platforms were covered in voice recordings, images and testimonies. Once known by the world as a survivor brave enough to come forward, Heard was now depicted as a manipulative liar.   

“Tell the world, Johnny, tell them, Johnny Depp, I, Johnny Depp, a man, I’m a victim too of domestic violence,” Heard said in a recording played at the trial. “See how many people believe or side with you.” She utilized the notion that men cannot be victims of domestic abuse to diminish Depp’s experience. But instead of backing down and conceding to the stereotypical assumptions, Depp confidently told the jury, “Yes I am.” 

A majority of the support has come from social media platforms. #MenToo began trending on Twitter, demanding the inclusion of awareness for male victims. TikTok has been ruthless against Heard, analyzing every testimony for inconsistencies. Conspiracies have included that Heard was posing for emotional pictures and using drugs during the trial. 

As judge Azcarate read the verdict, the world exploded with excitement. The jury found that Johnny Depp had proven all aspects of defamation against ex-wife Amber Heard and was awarded 15 million dollars in damages. Even with his seat left empty, Depp’s name was heard loud and clear as fans of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star chanted outside of the courtroom. The mold of a typical victim was continuously broken as the judge read out “Answer: Yes” about every element of defamation. 

Depp was able to redefine the title of a “survivor.” No matter how strong, anyone can suffer from abuse, especially at the hands of a powerful manipulator.  

Photo credit: “Black Mass 11” by GabboT is licensed under (CC BY-SA 2.0).