Editorial: The narrative needs to change


GabboT/Wikipedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Amber Heard accompanies Johnny Depp to the Black Mass premiere while they were married.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Once a glamorous couple driving around in a red, vintage car, they are now fighting in court over allegations of domestic abuse.

The court case began in 2016, when Heard filed for divorce from Depp, citing abuse while he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol as the main reason. Heard also attempted to get a restraining order.

However, police investigations could not find evidence to support Heard’s allegations, and the case reached a settlement on Aug. 16. Heard won $7 million, which she promised to donate to charity, and Depp released a joint statement with her that promised neither of them had made false claims to promote their own finances.

In 2018, a year after their official divorce, Heard once again claimed that she had been abused in an op-ed at The Washington Post. In response, Depp sued Heard for defamation and libel, but lost this case and was denied the chance to appeal. In 2021, Heard countersued Depp in a case that is currently ongoing.

This could’ve been a defining moment in social and legal societies. It could’ve called the important issue of domestic abuse into the spotlight, allowing for an important change in people’s view of this issue.

Instead, people and the media have treated this trial like one of the movies that Heard and Depp used to star in. It’s been broadcasted as if it were a movie, and the public has been invited to watch, forming long lines.

For many people, however, this isn’t an interesting story or a fun form of entertainment.

The trial covers topics of domestic abuse for both men and women. According to Domestic Violence Research, 22% of individuals have been assaulted by a partner in their lifetime.

Often, media reports these cases as helpless women against their stronger male counterparts, but in actuality, women are the perpetrators more often than men. Female-perpetrated cases occur at a rate of 28.3%, compared to male-perpetrated cases at 21.6%.

And, although many people are portraying Depp as the innocent victim in the trial, this case covers the interesting concept of mutual abuse.

“I left last night. Honestly, I swear to you because I just couldn’t take the idea of more physicality, more physical abuse on each other because had we continued it, it would have gotten f—–g bad. And baby, I told you this once. I’m scared to death we are a f—–g crime scene right now,” Depp said in a recording played during his trial.

Many experts have questioned whether mutual abuse can be considered a form of domestic abuse, considering that most definitions include a power imbalance.

The current expert opinion is that mutual abuse often occurs when a victim has a violent reaction to being abused. In this way, experts consider this reactionary violence instead of domestic abuse because the power imbalance is on the perpetrators side.

Depp and Heard’s trial could’ve been an important societal moment, bringing different forms of abuse to light. Instead, the media took it as a TV show, using headlines like “TikTok Viral Trend: Videos Ridiculing Amber Heard’s Testimony in Johnny Depp Case.”

Abuse isn’t a fun sport for spectators to watch, it’s a bad reality, and it’s time the media starts treating it as such.

If you or someone you know is struggling with domestic abuse, call

*This editorial reflects the views of the Scot Scoop editorial board and was written by Lindsay Augustine.

This story was originally published on Scot Scoop News on May 24, 2022.