Gloria Steinem, along with several experts in intimate partner violence, are “deeply concerned” by the verdict in the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.
Steinem and organizations including the National Organization for Women, the National Women’s Law Center, Equality Now and the Women’s March Foundation went public with an open letter in support of Heard Wednesday.
“The vilification of Ms. Heard and ongoing online harassment of her and those who have voiced support for her have been unprecedented in both vitriol and scale,” the open letter states. “Much of this harassment was fueled by disinformation, misogyny, biphobia, and a monetized social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment.”
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The signees added: “The same disinformation and victim-blaming tropes are now being used against others who have alleged abuse.”
The experts called the verdict in Depp’s favor “a fundamental misunderstanding of intimate partners and sexual violence and how survivors respond to it. … We have grave concerns about the rising misuse of defamation suits to threaten and silence survivors.”
“We condemn the public shaming of Amber Heard,” the open letter concludes.
The outpouring of support for Heard comes one week after Depp’s appearance in Rihanna’s “Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 4” show, which stirred controversy.
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What happened in the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial?
Earlier this year, Depp faced his ex-wife Amber Heard in court during a highly contentious trial in which he accused Heard of defaming him in a December 2018 op-ed. In June, a Virginia jury awarded him more than $10 million in damages. Heard also partially won her suit counter with the jury awarding her $2 million in damages.
The trial resurfaced Heard’s allegations of abuse by Depp during intense testimony, which was steamed live daily. Depp said he never abused Heard and claimed she abused him.
Heard said after the trial she was “heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband.” She also voiced worry that it “sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed in humiliated.”
“Even somebody who is sure I’m deserving of all this hate and vitriol, even if you think that I’m lying, you still couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me that you think on social media there’s been a fair representation,” she later said in a “Dateline” interview with Savannah Guthrie. “You cannot tell me that you think that this has been fair.”
Meanwhile, Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez told “Today” host Savannah Guthrie that the actor, who was not in the courtroom when the verdict was read, had an “overwhelming sense of relief.”
The attorney also shared that a mutual friend between her and Depp said, “I haven’t seen Johnny smile like that in six years.”
“We encourage all victims to come forward and have their day in court, which is exactly what happened in this case,” she added.
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