Amber Heard is speaking out about the stigma victims of domestic violence face in an op-ed for the Washington Post titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
The Aquaman star settled her domestic violence case against ex-husband Johnny Depp in 2016, and both stars agreed not to publicly discuss the other or their agreement. (Note: It hasn’t gone so well.) Heard has continued to speak out about being a survivor of abuse without ever naming Depp specifically, something she does again in her piece for the Post. However, in the op-ed the 32-year-old actress is more candid than ever about blowback she faced for going public with her accusations two years ago.
“I was exposed to abuse at a very young age. I knew certain things early on, without ever having to be told,” Heard begins, before explaining that she “had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age.”
“But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim,” she continues. “Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
Heard reveals that “friends and advisers” told her she would be “blacklisted” in Hollywood and would never work again, warnings that appeared to hold true, as she says her role in a movie was recast and she was dropped as the face of a global fashion brand. “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse,” she states.
“Imagine a powerful man as a ship, like the Titanic. That ship is a huge enterprise. When it strikes an iceberg, there are a lot of people on board desperate to patch up holes — not because they believe in or even care about the ship, but because their own fates depend on the enterprise,” Heard writes. “In every walk of life, women are confronting these men who are buoyed by social, economic and cultural power. And these institutions are beginning to change.”
“We are in a transformative political moment,” she declares, adding: “Women’s rage and determination to end sexual violence are turning into a political force. We have an opening now to bolster and build institutions protective of women.”
Heard continues, “I write this as a woman who had to change my phone number weekly because I was getting death threats. For months, I rarely left my apartment, and when I did, I was pursued by camera drones and photographers on foot, on motorcycles and in cars. Tabloid outlets that posted pictures of me spun them in a negative light. I felt as though I was on trial in the court of public opinion — and my life and livelihood depended on myriad judgments far beyond my control.”
The actress, who is also an ambassador on women’s rights for the American Civil Liberties Union, wants “to ensure that women who come forward to talk about violence receive more support.”
“We are electing representatives who know how deeply we care about these issues,” Heard concludes. “We can work together to demand changes to laws and rules and social norms — and to right the imbalances that have shaped our lives.”
Depp has vigorously denied Heard’s accusations of abuse.
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