Multiple feminist organizations have broken their silence with an open letter of support for Amber Heard. The letter comes five months after Heard lost a defamation case against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. The case stemmed from an op-ed the actress penned in 2018 for The Washington Post in which she detailed her experiences surviving sexual assault and facing the media’s wrath for speaking out. Heard mentioned being a victim of domestic abuse, as well.
She did not name Depp in her op-ed, however, he claimed she defamed him by identifying as a victim of abuse and sued her for $50 million. He pursued the lawsuit after losing a separate lawsuit against The Sun, which dismissed his defamation claims after finding substantial evidence that he did abuse Heard in multiple alleged incidents. Heard counter-sued for $100 million, accusing Depp of defaming her by accusing her of falsifying her abuse accusations. The verdict ended up ruling in both Heard’s and Depp’s favor. However, Heard was found liable on all three counts of defamation raised, while Depp was found liable on only one count. Both parties have since appealed both verdicts.
The Depp vs. Heard defamation received high media attention, most of which was openly biased towards Heard. Supporters of Depp led a public and brutal smear campaign against Heard based largely on sexism, bigotry, and misinformation. They partook in abhorrent practices like victim-shaming and even trampled on the #MeToo campaign by tagging their hate against Heard with #MePoo. Many chose to ignore the concerning connotations of a case that ruled that victims of abuse can be sued for defamation for merely identifying as victims. Anyone who dared demonstrate support for Heard or question the case was silenced and attacked by Depp’s rabid supporters. However, several feminist organizations are now uniting to speak about the case.
Feminist organizations support Heard
As reported by NBC News, more than 130 individuals hailing from women’s rights organizations have signed an open letter of support for Heard. Organizations who have backed the letter include Women’s March, National Organization for Women, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, Feminist Majority Foundation, and dozens more. The letter opened by explaining that many experts have been concerned about the trial between Heard and Depp and the unprecedented harassment towards Heard.
It also went on to explain that the trial and the response to it are indicative of a misuse of defamation cases and a deep misunderstanding of domestic violence. Mainly, it shows a disturbing trend in tactics used to further silence and threaten victims of abuse. The letter concluded with:
> We condemn the public shaming of Amber Heard and join in support of her. We support the ability of all to report intimate partner and sexual violence free of harassment and intimidation.
Thus far, the vile and deeply unsettling hatred and harassment that Depp’s supporters have directed at Heard supporters have dissuaded many from speaking out. However, those who signed this letter see the growing urgency in speaking out. Amid a disturbing trend of abuse victims being silenced by defamation lawsuits and public harassment, it is comforting that there is a strong group of people that have banded together to back a victim’s fundamental right to speak out on abuse.
(Via: NBC News, featured image: Warner Bros.)
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