If You’re Not Behind Amber Heard, Where the Hell Are You?

How is this even a question?


When Amber Heard and Johnny Depp got together a few years ago, I was among the collective that side-eyed the union intensely. Why would he end a fourteen-plus year relationship with Vanessa Paradis, a woman I considered queenly? Why would Amber Heard even want to marry him in the first place? I didn’t get too emotional about it apart from a few “LOVE IS DEAD” posts on social media, and that was that.

I used to love Johnny Depp. I mean: Edward Scissorhands? Yes. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Boy, you’re a genius. Sweeney Todd? AHH SLAY (literally). My seven-year-old is was a huge Captain Jack Sparrow fan, and the Pirates movies are were a staple in our household. Note: Those cross-outs are intentional, because we don’t get behind domestic violence in this home, and in the past few weeks it’s become clear to many of us that Johnny Depp is very likely an abuser.

Domestic violence looks like a lot of different things, and abusers don’t fit one stereotype. Sure, my dad was an abuser, but they aren’t all paunchy, poor southern white guys with a drinking problem. Some of them are millionaires. In fact, some of them are millionaire movie stars that we all think are super hot. You can’t spot an abuser on the street. You can’t, in fact, always spot them when you’re on a first date with one. Sometimes you can’t even spot them when you’ve been married for a year and he’s never laid a hand on you until now.

Domestic violence also isn’t just a physical thing—someone doesn’t have to throw a phone at your face for it to be domestic violence. Any violent behavior that happens in your home—any violent behavior that provokes or incites fear—is domestic violence. Smashing plates, hitting a hole in the wall. Throwing your stuff around the room or in the yard. Kicking your dog, breaking your laptop. Yelling at you until you’re crouched in a corner, sobbing uncontrollably. I know this, because I’ve lived it.

I grew up living under the thumb of a man who felt powerless in most of the world, and who exploited what little power he felt he had over my mother, myself, and my three siblings. Domestic violence is weird. Not everyone who experiences it has the same reaction, or even the same memories. If you get me in a room with my siblings, you’re going to get four different stories about what it was like to grow up with him. If you add my mom, you’re going to get the closest version to the truth.

But back to Amber.

In case you’re sitting there like, “Whoa, I have no idea what’s going on. Johnny Depp did… what?” allow me to fill you in. Here’s a woman-first list that summarizes what’s been going down in Hollywood:

On May 25, Amber Heard filed for divorce from Johnny Depp. I, along with many on the Internet who follow celebs, begin speculating about what went wrong. I think the initial assumption was that they got married too quickly, he had a midlife crisis, or she’s awful (because it’s always the she that’s awful). Two days later, Amber filed a request for temporary restraining order, and leveled allegations of domestic violence against Depp. This is where things immediately shifted from “Ha, OMG, celeb drama” to “Holy shit, what happened?” for me. Her team released photos of her bruised face (along with details of what went down), while Johnny Depp’s team started firing out photos of him helping an elderly lady with her hearing aid.

Unfortunately for Amber Heard and her team, it seems like this is where much of the general public decided full stop that she was a gold-digging bitch who was only after money, not, you know, a victim of domestic violence committed to exposing her (alleged) attacker.  The LAPD issued a statement insisting that they saw no evidence of domestic violence when they visited the Depp-Heard home, despite the claim that Amber in fact gave  police a statement. Amber Heard’s team proceeded to release detail after detail, photo after photo, all in the face of allegations that she was making the entire thing up… and we ask ourselves why women take “so long” to leave their abusers. Why women wait “so long” to report years of abuse. We ask ourselves why women stay.

To add on to the pile-on, celebrities started coming out in favor of Depp on May 28 (Paul Bettany and Terry Gilliam revealed themselves to be a wildly disappointing sad men), while Amber released an official statement about the years-long abuse. (FYI survivors, it’s pretty horrifying… so tread lightly.) Johnny’s most recent ex released a statement defending him. On May 29, surprise, surprise, Depp’s presumably well-paid PR team stated that Amber has been making up her allegations because of all the negative press she’s been getting. It’s worth noting that the negative press initially stemmed entirely from the Depp machine, and Amber Heard’s lawyers tried to keep the divorce proceedings quiet until said machine ramped up. The media continues to blame anyone and everyone except Johnny Depp. I mean, Amber is publicly out as being bisexual, so that’s probably what this is really about, right?

On May 30, celebrities who have zero fucks left to give (I see and salute you, Busy Phillips and Amanda de Cadenet) came out in support of Amber. The next day, Amber Heard’s team released one of the most powerful statements I’ve read on domestic violence. This was followed by the release of more details of abuse (again, this could be triggering, so know yourselves) that span the years that the two were together. Yesterday, texts from Amber to Depp’s assistant, Stephen, were released (meanwhile, Depp was photographed arguing with his bodyguard at 2am). The implication? The abuse isn’t anything new.

I have been following the story closely since it broke, and I’m ashamed to admit my very initial reaction upon hearing that she had filed for divorce (before the abuse allegations were made public) was to find a GIF of Vanessa Paradis shaking her head because I was all “Aww, girl. Why did he ever leave you?!” Whatever, I suck. But the situation escalated rapidly, and by the end of the day, allegations of abuse had come out. Things got real, and I realized people were having four main reactions:

1. there’s no way Johnny depp did this. he seems so nice/makes great movies/I’ve loved him since I was two. Hi, everyone in this camp. I like you, maybe, but I need to tell you why this is the worst camp. Unless you are Johnny Depp’s seventeen-year-old daughter or his fourteen-year-old son, you have no place here. Making movies you like doesn’t mean he’s not an abuser, and being the champion for lovable weirdos doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least consider these allegations. I invite you to read both sides of the story, and ask yourself this: What does Amber Heard really stand to gain here?

2. she’s a gold digger/after his money/such a bitch. Here’s some truth for you: these two didn’t sign a prenup, and Amber Heard will get half of what Johnny Depp made while they were married no matter what. Allegations of domestic abuse make the situation more messy and painful (and they’re absolutely terrifying to launch), but they don’t change the financial outcome. She didn’t need money. She needed her freedom.

3. innocent until proven guilty! Guess what? We’re not a jury. If you want to believe he’s innocent until a court says he’s not, sure, go for it. That is important in a courtroom. Otherwise, we would find ourselves systematically prosecuting innocent people based on how we feel about them (oh, but wait… we do that anyway). But I invite you to consider the many ways “innocent until proven guilty” is used to give credence to the people society tells us are good—while never being applied to the powerless.

Johnny Depp is a wildly powerful, wildly wealthy (net worth: approximately $400 million) white man. Amber Heard is a pretty young female actress, who we’ve been taught to think is probably out for his money. So, when it comes to Amber, why can’t you find it in yourself to also consider that maybe she’s not lying? Is it at all possible that our brains are socially programmed for implicit bias, which leads us to trust the powerful somewhat reflexively?

Consider this. What kind of machine is she up against? What does she stand to gain from going after one of the most powerful white men in the world? We, fellow women, have the ability to believe the victim. You know what happens when we do that? We build an even better community in which potential abusers don’t abuse because they realize they can’t get away with it. Why do we use the presumption of innocence as a crutch when we want it, but totally drop it when it doesn’t fit with what we want the truth to be?

4. I support her. I don’t even care. Hey guys, you’re the best ones.

Pink Line

Domestic violence is terrible. It’s a sickness, it pervades your very being, it gets into every single part of your life. One in five women and one in seven men have been victims of violence in their homes, and only 34 percent of victims receive medical care for injuries that result from this violence (because hello, it’s scary as hell to even think about reporting your abuser).

When I was growing up, I didn’t realize that my reality wasn’t the reality of other people that I knew. I didn’t realize that people lived with fathers who didn’t terrorize them, lived with mothers who didn’t have time for long talks and fun chats over snacks because they were constantly trying to keep their children alive. I didn’t even realize that what my father was doing to all of us was systematically wrecking our lives for years. I didn’t realize any of this until I was almost a teenager.

In the United States more than ten million women and men are victims of domestic violence a year, and a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds. Do something with me: close your eyes, and count slowly to nine. Do it again. Do it a third time. That’s three women, right there, just in the last twenty-seven seconds.

Why is it so hard to believe that Amber Heard was one of them?

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, we encourage you to reach out the the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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  • Jessica

    Great article on the messed up situation that is the victim/abuser cycle of violence. I have pretty much nothing more to add, and am glad I haven’t seen people standing up for Johnny Depp on my social media feeds.

    A supplementary article that touches more on the publicity spin machine is Ronan Farrow’s piece on Woody Allen published a few weeks ago: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/my-father-woody-allen-danger-892572

    • stephanie

      Funnily/weirdly enough, we were all talking about Woody Allen earlier today. He’s the worst.

      • Anon

        I have switched to Anon now because reading about your story, Stephanie, and many of the other commenters’ here has made me realize that I grew up in an abusive household.

        Wow. My mind is blown.

        • Anon

          ETA: Thank you.

  • Jess

    I don’t really follow celebrity news, but sometimes it makes headlines anyway and I see it. My first thought upon hearing the allegations was a heavy sigh and, “Well, shit. Yet another male artist whose work I have enjoyed turned out to be an awful human being.”

    I wasn’t even enraged. It was like, “Here we go again,” like we should have expected this, like it was bound to happen eventually, like the news special-reported that the sky is blue and grass is green.

    So… now I’m just sad and angry that I live in a world where my first reaction is resignation, not righteous anger. Because obviously she’s telling the truth, and obviously abuse isn’t ok, and it happens way too damn often to way too damn many people.

    • Eenie

      I also don’t follow celebrity news. I don’t think it’s appropriate to judge other people’s relationships from the outside. Your last paragraph nails it though.

      • Meg Keene

        I actually didn’t know about this story till I started editing this yesterday, and had to dig into the research. But then it became very clear to me this wasn’t about CELEBS really, this was about domestic violence and the disturbing trend of how our society responds to it.

        I also just can’t seem to get through to men in my life how awful it is for a woman to come forward with these kind of charges. It makes you so vulnerable, you get trashed, and it has the possibility to totally ruin your career, if you have a public one. But we keep running with the story that women do this for their own gain. Like all of those Bill Cosby accusers…..

        • Eenie

          I agree. And half the time coming forward doesn’t bring justice, so why would you come forward? Our justice system is on purpose, set up as innocent until proven guilty.

          • Kate

            Ugh, I just sat through three days of jury selection on a sexual assault trial and had to listen to both the judge and PD ask potential jurors if they believed that people lie about allegations of sexual assault. I wanted to puke. I never got called up but as I sat listening I just felt worse and worse about how our system deals with these crimes.

            The whole construct of innocent until proven guilty means that in these situations the victim has to prove that a crime was actually committed rather than just proving that a defendant actually committed a crime everyone agrees actually occurred. It is a subtle switch but makes it virtually impossible as a victim to achieve this without being on trial as much or more than the defendant.

          • Sarah

            Eww. The Pollyanna in me hopes that the judge and PD were hoping to weed out the idiots who believe people (aka women) lie about abuse/assault.

          • wotmot

            Some of them do. Most of them do not. Have you considered that Heard may have been both victim and abuser? Physical abuse isn’t the only kind of abuse. But if you honestly believe that no women lie about abuse and assault you might check out that ultra-right wing, women hating magazine called Slate.com Try a web search slate, women lie about rape. Just a place to start if you intend to be taken as something other than an ideologue. Men lie too btw, or in other words, people lie, for all sorts of reasons (anger, a desire for revenge, money, custody of children, sympathy etc. ).

          • Kalë

            and victims are set up as liars til proven truth-tellers. (and even then still portrayed as liars a lot of the time)

        • Danielle

          Yeah, as a regular lady (non-celebrity) who tried to get a restraining order on my ex-boyfriend 15 years ago… I can tell you how humiliating it is to try to “prove yourself” to law enforcement officials, who often don’t have special training in this area.

          Our society and law enforcement around domestic violence needs to change. Period.

        • Jess

          This was kind of what I was reacting to I think – I hear from a friend of abuse or rape and I’m not even shocked anymore. I believe them, of course I believe them and of course I will do everything I can to help them, but I’m not surprised.

          Like the whole Ghomeshi trial. It was awful, and traumatizing for those women, and completely exemplified why people (both men and women) don’t come forward, don’t report an assault, don’t accuse an abuser to their friends and family, to the police.

          And the whole time I’m sitting here going, “This is what happens, this is how the system is.”

          And that was a terrifying thought to have.

          • Lexipedia

            Also, the judge in the Ghomeshi trial… that was awful.

        • Kalë

          Every time. THIS IS WHY PEOPLE DON’T COME FORWARD. And then women are vilified for NOT coming forward sooner, or not coming forward at all, and disbelieved for this exact thing – “if it was real/that serious/a big deal, why didn’t she say something sooner?”, to then turn around and disbelieve and discredit those who do share their stories. So much can’t even, so much rage and despair and sadness.

        • Yeah, I’ve been so fascinated by how she did everything “right” (I hate hate putting it that way) and is still being vilified. When women say they’ve been abused, people so often say, why didn’t she leave? Why didn’t she file a police report? And she showed up at the police department with bruises on her face, and still can’t get a break.

  • Offbalance

    What really steams my clams is that this isn’t the first time I’ve heard whispers in Depp’s direction about being abusive, either. I’ve heard about this for years. I’ve never found him the least bit attractive, and only like some of his films, but #TeamAmber all the way – this isn’t a stunt. She was a victim.

  • Anon for this

    The thing is, abusers aren’t always constantly and demonstrably horrible. That’s part of what is so terrifying about them and I think it’s often what truly makes people so frustrated and confused and defensive about these allegations. I believe that Johnny Depp’s daughter absolutely adores him and I believe that she has reasons for that. I also 100% believe Amber and obviously think she deserves as much justice and peace that can possibly be brought to her.

    Too many people believe the narrative that abusers are always binarily awful people—or even that they can only be “good” in superficial ways–actually does a lot more damage because when we’re given someone who is capable of love, but also capable of horror, we shut down. I think there are very base parts of our brains and, hell, our souls that cannot comprehend someone being capable of both. But pure monsters are rare and the truth is we walk among abusers every day, and we love and admire and venerate ones we know of and ones we don’t. The more space we can carve out to allow women to tell their truths, however painful, the stronger we all will be and the more we can move toward understanding the root causes.

    My grandfather was (by all accounts and by my experience) an incredibly loving father, an early civil rights activist, someone who wouldn’t hesitate to give you money, food, clothing, a place to stay, and all-around an incredibly congenial, compassionate person. …Except when he drank. When he drank, he would loudly accuse my grandmother of cheating on him, stomping around the house and yelling “SLUT” and smacking her as hard as he could. One time he kicked her down the stairs and triggered a miscarriage. The abuse ended years before my mother was even born, but it happened. He was that man.

    I believe my grandfather was the man I grew up with–that he loved me, that he loved his family, that he would do anything for anyone to help them. I loved him for that. I also believe that my grandmother deserved better and deserved to NEVER live in fear, ever. I ache and ache and ache for her, who never could have even thought about leaving the horror he put her through, not really. I hated him for that.

    • April

      YUP. A big part of what makes talking about abuse or accusing someone of abuse really difficult is that abusers are very rarely total monsters so there will always be someone willing to say how nice and normal your abusers seem so they COULDN’T POSSIBLY have done X or Y.

    • Anon too

      Thank you for this. You’re so right, it’s so complicated and the narrative that abusers behave and act a certain way is unhelpful.

      When I was growing up, my stepfather drank a lot, and when he was drinking became petty, manipulative, and angry. He yelled and started fights, and we were constantly on eggshells around him. When my mom tried to enlist the help of his family to address his drinking, they said, “At least he keeps a steady job and he doesn’t beat you.” Which shamed my mother into thinking that she was overreacting, as well as tied the concept of abuse to being “beaten” in my mind. So when I married my own alcoholic who did things like corner me in our bedroom and yell until I cried, or slam his fist into a wall next to my head, or take the door off the hinges when I locked myself in a room to get away from him, I didn’t recognize it as abuse because “at least he doesn’t beat me.”

      • Roselyne

        And, speaking from experience… As long as he’s not physical, it’s “you’re oversensitive”. And when he DOES whack you across the face and you leave? What you get is “why didn’t you leave sooner”.

        It’s the worst catch-22.

        • Anon too


        • LAC

          I was not there so I do not know what happened. That said, it seems very strange to me that the woman said he was abusive during the entirety of the relationship, then decided to marry him.
          I have been in a wide array of relationships. I have been struck exactly one time during an argument with a man with whom I was involved. I left immediately and never went back. This was a man with money (not as much as JD – that’s for sure) who later begged my forgiveness and asked me to marry him. I eventually forgave him, but never let him touch me again. I picked up my stuff from his place when he was out of town. I do not understand how a woman with her own economic means actually marries a man she claims has been abusive from the start. I am sorry if it sounds as if I am condoning abuse. I am not. She is not a teenager. It seems by age 30 a successful and beautiful businesswoman ought to know where to draw the line.
          Anyway it is obvious they do not belong together so they are divorced, and that’s good.

    • MC

      Yes to all this. I work for a violence prevention org and one thing we’ve talked about is that often abusers will “groom” their communities – basically charm everyone around them, be a stand-up citizen in most situations – because that makes any truths their victims would tell seem unbelievable, which means that they are more likely to stay with them or to stay quiet. Whether intentional or not, it’s a way to maintain the power & control in a relationship.

      • Kalë

        I’m really glad this point was brought up. Abusers are not always these creepy
        crawly monsters, at least on the surface, and in many cases can appear to be spectacular people. I actually think it’s harmful to paint them as monstrous abominations,
        not because abusers are **actually such good people that just
        made one teeny mistake** but because it veils and distorts the realities
        of abuse – if he is an upstanding community member/loving father/great
        friend/outstanding actor, how can he also be an abuser? He’s not a
        monster if he also takes the kids to swim practice/helps me fix my car at 2am/moves
        me to tears with his performance, right????

        • archaeopteryx

          That bias (abusers always seem creepy/mean to outsiders) also enables that classic abuser gem, “but I haven’t done anything since the last time!” Because of course the victim is the mean one for predicting future behavior based on past behavior…

      • wotmot

        And Ms. Heard hasn’t groomed her community as well? Why the automatic assumption of her as victim, Depp as abuser, rather than the reverse? His past lovers give no indication of such behavior, and no one has stepped forward as a witness to this other than Ms. Heard. Have you considered the possibility that both are abusers, and victims?

        • mitty1

          Exactly. These replies are incredibly ignorant. Makes me ill.

    • Violet

      Agree so much. Let me see if I can say what I’m thinking in a way that makes sense:

      We often hear abusers described as cycling through “good” and “bad” times. It makes it sound like during the “good” times they are always intentionally manipulating their victims, plying them with flowers and apologies, just so that they stay together so that they can have more rage-filled bad moments. And while I’m sure this is true for a number of actual sociopaths, I think the vast majority of cases are not like this. These are emotionally ill-equipped people, who don’t know how to handle their feelings and act in violent, criminal ways. Once an outburst is done, they go back to how they were, and that could be extremely loving.

      One thing that strikes me is when people try to talk to a victim, saying things like, “Love doesn’t look like this,” the victim is honestly responding when they say, “You don’t understand. S/he does love me.” It might very well be true! The abuser may feel very strong love for their victim! But that person still needs to work on themselves before being in a relationship.

    • Rachel

      YES, totally. Also my first thought after reading her descriptions of the abuse and the texts with his assistant (ugh, and everything is so horrible and sad) is that it seems like he has a major substance/alcohol abuse problem linked to the abuse–which may have gotten worse in recent years and/or be intermittent, which would explain why other people in his life are so certain he wouldn’t do anything like that. I’m so so so glad she is getting out!

  • JLily

    Um can I just say how gross it is that in the Star “article” they are referring to “team depp” and “team heard” as if this story is about fictional characters and it is all a game? Also the first word describes Amber’s sexuality WHICH HAS NO BEARING ON THE SITUATION and then mentions that this could ruin Depp’s reputation?! I just. can’t. UGH

    • MC

      Especially ironic/awful because in all likelihood… this won’t ruin his reputation or his career. I mean, look at Woody Allen. Look at Chris Brown. Look at almost any male celebrity who has been accused of violence, or has even admitted to being violent! Most of them are still very successful. It took 20+ years and 20+ women coming forward about Bill Cosby for him to be (mostly) blacklisted.

      (Not saying that every abuser shouldn’t be able to work or be successful in their lives – but esp. in a culture where celebrities are idolized it’s pretty upsetting that we as a culture don’t hold them more accountable.)

      • Ashlah

        Yep, it’s unfortunately much more likely that this will have a negative impact on her career. Sickening.

      • wotmot

        Good GOD, your comparing Depp to Woody Allen and Chris Brown? Allen admitted to having sex with his then step daughter, Brown was convicted of violent assault. Depp is accused, with no clear evidence other than Amber Heard’s word on the matter. It maybe he did, it maybe that he did not. It even might be that they were both abusive to each other and both made a really bad choice in getting married. But comparing someone who is accused, with no evidence or testimony other than the accuser, to someone like Chris Brown is sketchy, at best. And in case your thinking of throwing my “male viewpoint ” at me, I was a victim of physical abuse, with evidence, with witnesses, and the cops laughed. This isn’t a gender issue.

        • R.R. Q

          I agree, Depp can’t be compared to Woody Allen or Bill Cosby who are pervs. Depp just had a messy divorce. If he did hit her, then yes it’s wrong of him and he needs help to check his aggression. But again it can’t be compared to serial rapists.

  • Sara

    I am on Team Amber, because its my gut reaction that no one would put themselves through this media circus for no reason. Abuse is terrible, obviously, and she’s also fighting on behalf of people that don’t have the chance to.
    I will say though for your 3rd viewpoint – I really really hate trial by media. I mean that as a generalization, not necessarily in this specific case. And I see where you’re coming from. But in all honestly, we’ll never know 100% of the truth (in any trial-by-media frenzy, not just this one) because even if one side is willing to release all truthful information, the other side will find a way to falsify data or diminish the truth. Its frustrating to see celebrities lives torn open for these horrible situations and know that someone is lying and their fans will continue to berate the victim because of an imaginary trusting relationship they have with that celebrity. These are real people, not a Lifetime movie and I think that’s easily forgotten by the general public.

  • mary w

    I’m sure this is a great piece with lots of insights. But a line in your opening paragraph set me up to feel annoyed and unwelcome and made me realize this article wasn’t written for someone like me. Sure, I’m a woman who’s interested in reading others’ stories of abuse. But I’m beyond your age scope.

    Referring to a 52-year-old as “an old guy” is just, well, narrow-minded. And using “old guy” as a pejorative (let’s not pretend you weren’t) is worse. I get it; you’re in your 30s. You don’t want to think about anyone beyond age 40, because, ew. But then why would I want to read anything you have to write, and why should I?

    I’m 49, nearing 50, and I don’t feel old. But I do feel shame when I read a description like yours, just a throw-away, not-even-think-twice description, a catchall that will make your readers also think “yuck, you’re right…he’s OLD!”

    I just saw that you wrote the article linked to the bottom of this one, about women and ageism. I’m here to tell you: With your description of Depp–in which “old” is just as gross as having bad teeth–you’re part of the problem.

    • Roselyne

      Speaking for those readers who read the description ‘old guy’ – no, I wouldn’t look at the average 55-year-old and thinkg OLD GUY. These are guys in my peer groups, guys who come to my parties, guys I hang out with, guys I work with.

      However, I’m 32. If I’m looking at romantic partnerships… then, yeah, 55 is kind of ‘old guy, too old for me, wtf’ territory. My territory is, like… mid/late 20s to late 30s.

      I think the context is important on that one.

      • Violet

        Meh, I’m not 30 yet, and if I were single, I wouldn’t rule out a guy in his fifties as a romantic partner. “Old” was meant to be a pejorative, and that is hurtful.

        • Roselyne

          Ah. Totally. I was seeing it as a descriptive, in that context.

    • Lucy

      Same here, Mary. Thank you for saying it!

      Since I’m the same age as you, this article made me feel horrible. It’s just casual ageism like it’s no big thing. And it’s not the first time I’ve seen it here, sorry to say.

      There are regular readers here who are married to much older spouses. Imagine how they feel. Imagine if you are the older spouse. You’ve just been told that you’re completely undesirable.

      • mary w

        Yep. Casual ageism is rampant. I’ve witnessed it in a supposedly safe-space community organization I belong to, where people openly use “old” (post-40, or even sometimes post-30!) as a term of disgust. And I’m irked by news writers who refer to 60-year-olds as “elderly.” Geez. Makes me wonder if they’ve ever met anyone older than themselves.

        • Lisa

          I was absolutely appalled and shocked when I found out from my 39-year-old boss that all pregnant women over the age of 35 are apparently now referred to as “elderly.” Seriously, medical community? Is that necessary?

          • Lucy

            It’s not just now. They have always been referred to with the medical term “elderly primigravida” if it was their first pregnancy. Except it used to begin at age 30. Yes, I’m old enough to remember.

          • mary w

            Ha! My 38-year-old pregnant friend had an image of a crutch in the upper right corner of all her paperwork to indicate that hers was an “elderly pregnancy.” ?!?!

          • Meg Keene

            That’s always been the case, it’s a clinical term “geriatric pregnancy.” I just gave birth right after my 35th birthday, so I had one!

          • mary w

            Geez, I wish they’d come up with a better name for that.

          • Lisa

            I thought geriatric was a term she’d used, too. Something I’ve never needed to know/learn until now!

          • Meg Keene

            The bottom line is, you have different health risks, so your OB needs to treat you with those in mind. I do get that it feels offensive, but (maybe because I had good OB’s?) I didn’t really find it to be offensive when I was going through it. I just wanted to make sure they were doing their job. Plus, I got free cool tests because I was going to be over 35 at the birth ;)

            Here in the Bay Area having a baby in your mid 30s feels young.

          • MDBethann

            I had my daughter when I was 35. It wasn’t termed an “elderly” pregnancy, but it was termed “advanced maternal age.” at 35!!

        • Lucy

          That’s my experience also. I feel like younger people who write like that are in for a rude awakening in a few years. You are constantly made to feel “less than”.

          It’s unbelievable how rampant this attitude is. Someone had to approve this article and didn’t even blink. That’s how ingrained the attitude is.

          • mary w

            Exactly. Someone wrote it. Someone edited it. Not a thought about that word choice at all. (Or, if they thought about it, they didn’t think it was wrong to leave in.)

          • Lucy

            Exactly. If they were constantly reading about 30-year-olds being referred to as “old and gross” they’d have shut it right down.

          • mary w

            Ha ha! That made me laugh out loud.

          • Meg Keene

            I’m sorry that wording offended you. For the record, as the nearing 40 year old editor on that piece, that was some intentional light hearted word play. You’re making assumptions about the age of the staff here that are actually not accurate.

            Stephanie, the author of this piece, also recently wrote a pretty comprehensive post on women and ageism, if you’d like to dig into her (non lighthearted) thoughts on the matter: http://apracticalwedding.com/2016/05/ageism-and-women/

          • Lucy

            Meg, the fact that Stephanie wrote about women and ageism, and then turned around and called Depp “old” only shows she didn’t take her own article to heart.

            You calling it “lighthearted” shows disregard for the feelings of your older readers. Depp’s age was definitely referenced as a negative thing. We have been clear about how it feels to constantly encounter this attitude. It makes us feel like shit.

            As a 35-year-old, you aren’t yet old enough to be daily reminded by the media that you are now old and undesirable, along with the psychic toll it takes.

          • Meg Keene

            I’m not 35, and I do actually feel that, though it will get much worse with age. Again, I’m sorry you were offended. It’s been removed.

          • Exasperated

            Oh fer gawd sakes, Meg. So you’re 36 instead of 35! Same difference. The point still stands. You haven’t experienced ageism in any significant way.


          • stephanie

            ” the fact that Stephanie wrote about women and ageism, and then turned around and called Depp “old” only shows she didn’t take her own article to heart.” No. I was writing from a specific emotional, personal space for this piece. I don’t think anyone should be expected to remember everything that they should all the time, and writing this was an intense experience for me. I have apologized, I have changed it, and I think it’s no longer appropriate to continue to make the same point since those things have been done.

          • mary w

            OK, kind of sounds like sorry/not sorry to me. I agree with Lucy. These descriptions didn’t feel like lighthearted wordplay.

          • Violet

            This is a really important point you’re making, and that Lucy is backing you up on. Ageism is so ingrained, most people really don’t notice it until they’re in it. Hell, I didn’t notice until you pointed it out. But once you did- Hey! That is not nice!

            (The flip side is people who are so afraid of aging that they attribute magical powers to it, like, “Oooooh, how wise that person must be!” or “Oh, look at that *cute* old couple!” to try to feel better about the whole concept. But if society just got the point, that people are people, some are older, some are younger, they wouldn’t be in this weird rationalizing mess. But I digress.)

          • Dawn

            Being called “cute” when you’re old is patronizing and old people fucking hate it.

          • Violet

            ‘Zackly! It’s diminutive, and the implication of diminutives is you’re “less than.” Ick ick.

          • Readeress

            Reading all this in one go, I have to agree with Mary and Lucy and LP: Meg and Stephanie’s responses come off as defensive and not actually apologetic (“I’m sorry you feel bad” is a non-apology if ever there was one). They didn’t take responsibility for the word used, nor the lapse of judgment.

            I have no dog in this race, and never even saw the original comment, but I’m troubled by the APW response: I haven’t read Stephanie acknowledging that yes, that was an ageist comment – inadvertent or not – and yes, a double standard of judging on looks. To double down on explanations and then chalk up the discussion to a thread derail is really disappointing.

            I like this site, but that just had to be said.

          • mary w

            Thanks, Readeress. I felt that way about the editorial responses, as well. In fact, I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been dismissed, that ageism isn’t important, and that we were being blamed/shamed for talking about this issue. I agree if “old” were replaced with any adjective about skin color, religion, or sexuality, there’d have been a larger outcry.

          • Exasperated

            Any time anyone points out that APW has done something wrong, they are always always always told they are derailing the thread.

            APW does not do apologies well. It’s always “Sorry/Not Sorry”.

          • LP

            I have to say I’m very disappointed in this response. As a hospice worker and a licensed nursing home administrator, I deal with ageism daily, and frankly it pisses me off. Saying “I’m sorry the wording offended you” totally puts the blame on the person who was offended, not the person doing the offending. We are all going to either die or get older, neither of which is bad. Calling a 55 year old man “old and gross” is offensive. It is not offensive to think his actions are gross, but to like his grossness to his age is frankly irrelevant. He is also brown haired. If I said he was gross and brown haired, wouldn’t people be wondering what I’m talking about? It might be a “lighthearted joke” but it makes it no less okay. I am a big fan of APW, but this is so against everything I stand for. I am deeply, deeply disappointed, and hope APW realizes that ageism is just like any other discrimination, and is no more okay because you’ve written an article about it in the past.

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            I think the point being made by both Meg and Stephanie is that we don’t always choose our words carefully when we’re writing about something that is difficult and emotionally charged. Stephanie has taken responsibility for that up and down the comments section and changed the intro paragraph to reflect this acknowledgment. So at this point, we’re just beating a dead horse. Obviously APW is sensitive to issues of ageism. But we are an imperfect staff and sometimes our fingers think faster than our brains. As Meg mentioned above, we’re asking that this conversation end here, as it’s taking away from an equally serious and important discussion on domestic violence. It’s not that the conversation can’t be had at APW, but as a matter of our comment policy, we ask that it not happen in this particular thread. We fully encourage readers to bring it up again in Happy Hour if you want to discuss further. But for now, we’re going to considering this thread closed.

          • Anon

            Would the same excuse of something being emotionally charged work if a racist or sexist comment was made? I believe an aspect of intersectionality is acknowledging that no “ism” is more important to validate than another

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            I hear what you’re saying. However, I believe that an aspect of intersectionality is acknowledging when it’s time to let someone else’s voice be heard louder than my own. For example, I actually *might* let a sexist comment slide in an article about race, because as a white woman, I know that an article about race isn’t necessarily a time for me to make my white feminist arguments heard. Basically, it’s hard to make our voices heard when we’re talking over each other.

    • Courtney

      Yeah, it’s not the point of this piece, but I also bristled at the line about Vanessa Paradis being “age-appropriate.” I think she’s also younger than Depp by a decade or so, so what’s the cut off there? I like to think of APW as a place where “age-appropriate” isn’t a thing, and those lines were definitely off-putting for that reason. I think that whole first paragraph was meant to be just a little silly and dismissive of celeb gossip in general, but I agree that it’s problematic and an unfortunate way to open a piece on such an important topic.

    • stephanie

      Hi! Just to clarify, not to excuse, but I just said Johnny Depp is old and gross because I think he, specifically, is. He has disgusted me for years, actually. I don’t think all people who are 50 are old and gross, or even old, and I truly didn’t consider that when I wrote it. I think what happened here is that I wrote it knowing what I meant, and it was edited by people who also know what I meant (because they talk to me regularly), and those things rarely, if ever, translate to real life. I don’t think anyone beyond the age of 40 is gross at all, and I apologize that it made you feel that way.

      • mary w

        Yeah, but, he’s not really that old. I get that you find him unappealing/gross. And you could have just written that (“Why did she marry this gross dude?”) But you didn’t. You added in “old,” and we were clearly meant to read that as bad.

        What is the cut-off point for “old”? And when is someone “too” old? Too old for what? In Depp’s case, too old to have a younger girlfriend? To smile at cameras? To be seen as handsome or desirable? I’m not saying he’s those things to me, and I’m not saying he’s not an abuser. I’m talking simply about the choice to call someone “old” as a way to demean or dismiss them was made by you and accepted by your editor.

        Again — I get that you’ve written about ageism in another piece. But I’m saying that casual ageism appears here in this piece AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN SEE IT until someone pointed it out.

        • Meg Keene

          You guys, I’m going to go ahead and cut this conversation off. The point has been made very articulately, and the word has been removed. At this point this thread is being used to talk about a word used in a disparaging way to describe an abuser, by a writer who was physically abused by her own father. She clearly didn’t use the best judgement, using a word that was intended to disparage him in particular, out of anger, since the word was hurtful to other people. However, at this point, the edits have been made. I don’t want a conversation about abuse, in a community where women are being abused, to devolve into a debate about a word that has been removed.

          I’m sorry that it made you feel unwanted and undesirable. The fact that it wasn’t Stephanie’s intention is neither here nor there, it’s still something that we’re sorry we made you feel.

          And now, we’re going to focus on domestic violence.

        • stephanie

          I came back here to say what Meg expressed below. I actually don’t even think I can say it better, but I can say that hi: everyone makes mistakes. I have no problem admitting that I made one, and I adjusted the post accordingly.

          • mary w

            Thanks, Stephanie.

      • Lucy

        Frankly, I don’t think it’s remotely cool to point out his teeth either. Sure, Depp could fix his teeth, but a lot of people don’t have the money to fix their teeth. Those people are only going to feel self conscious about their own smile.

        Is it asking too much not to criticize people’s appearance?

        APW talks a good game about not making people feel bad about their size and being sensitive to people’s feelings. But making people feel badly about their teeth is okay?

        And sorry, but if you think Depp “specifically” is “old” then everyone his age is also old and you clearly meant to use “old” as an insult. Why did you want to use that word as an insult?

        I don’t understand why it’s so hard to admit this was a bad call.

  • Sarah M

    To add a note to the stats Stephanie gave at the end of this amazing piece – those numbers (1/5 women and 1/7 men) are usually REPORTED offenses. So it’s not even that 1/5 women will EXPERIENCE domestic violence, but that 1/5 women will REPORT the domestic violence. (Obviously I can’t say this absolutely because I don’t know her source for those stats). In criminology it’s referred to along the lines of “the dark figure of crime” because you realize the official police stats aren’t an accurate representation of all crimes. You have some efforts like NCVS (National Crime Victimization Survey) that attempt to better quantify these crimes by contacting samples of the population directly to survey their experiences of being a crime victim even if they didn’t report the crime to the police, but even that has methodology issues that keep it from being wholly accurate because people have to be willing to spend the time answering these questions. Plus, last I heard they did phone surveys, so A) you had to have a landline, and B) you’re verbally answering these questions and anyone else in the house with you could potentially overhear yours answers. How many people would admit to being the victims of domestic violence over the phone while their abuser is home? Which is to say – even the 1/5 women and 1/7 men is probably a drastic undercount of actual domestic violence victims. (And don’t EVEN get me started on how the patriarchy has completely fucked male domestic violence survivors.)

    Sorry for the long comment – my degree is in criminology and domestic violence is one of the topics I’m most passionate about. I’m all kinds of angry and riled up about this right now. #TeamAmber all the way.

    • Roselyne

      And seeing reactions like that, or reactions to the Gomeshi case… like, dude, why do you THINK I’m not counted in the ‘official’ figures? Why on earth would I voluntarily set myself up for this?

      • Sarah M

        SAME. Per the Texas Penal Code, I could have brought a felony assault allegation against my abusive ex-boyfriend. But I didn’t because I didn’t have faith in the evidence I had against him to get me taken seriously. Sometimes I kick myself for not reporting it that night (and now the statute of limitations has run out), but I just couldn’t bring myself to sign up for the inevitable clusterf**k it would have started. Or risk retaliation from him if I did report it. But I did get a police report after dealing with him continuing to try to contact me for over 3 years after I left him and made it clear I wanted zero contact with him.

    • archaeopteryx

      Yes especially to the last bit. As someone who’s marrying a man who was formerly abused by a woman, I get a pang every time people writing about abuse only frame it as ‘him-abusing-her.’

      • Sarah M

        *solidarity high five* I’m in a relationship with a cop who was abused by his ex-wife. Because he’d heard so much about how law enforcement marriages fall apart because of the cop not being emotionally healthy and not understanding that abuse is much more nuanced than just physical, he never really thought of her as abusive. I think the saddest thing was how NORMAL he thought it was that his “wife” would be so emotionally and psychologically manipulative, like constantly expecting him to be responsible for how SHE was feeling and forcing him to jump through hoops to receive any kind of affection from her. I’ll never forget seeing the light bulb go off in his head as we talked about emotional and psychological abuse. Like that it was definitely abuse that she threatened to kill herself if he ever tried to leave her and talk about how she hoped he found her body before their elementary-age kids did. Or that she physically cornered him and refused to let him walk away from an argument multiple times because she knew he’d never touch her for fear of her claiming physical abuse if he tried to push past her. I was so frustrated trying to find any kind of resources for him to read because everything I found related to domestic violence assumed a male abuser/female victim dynamic. It took a lot of work on healthy communication for him to feel comfortable talking through hard topics because he was so used to walking on eggshells and repressing what he was feeling for fear of upsetting her. It still amazes me how gentle, loving, compassionate, and supportive my guy is to me. He treats me more respectfully and lovingly than any guy I’d ever been with before. This is why I’m such an ardent feminist – the patriarchy doesn’t just hurt women.

        • archaeopteryx

          High five back! Emotional abuse is especially overlooked when it’s woman-to-man; it can be devastating and terrifying, and can take a lot of tries to escape, but some people still don’t get that it’s “really” abuse.

        • SD888

          Fuck the police. You stupid bitch. He’s going to treat you like shit just like he did to her. You dumb cunt!

    • wotmot

      Do me a favor, I’ve been asking for this for years. As a man who has experienced domestic violence, as well as sexual assault, as a man who by nature of gender is part of this patriarchy. Please give a clear cut definition of how the patriarchy can be identified. What does it do ( specifics ), what power does it deny, and to whom. Where does it derive its power from, and what counter(s) to it exist. As a lower middle class (economically) cis gender white male, how is it that I have benefited from this patriarchy in a manner that a cis gender white woman has not? I refuse to join a “team” in this kind of controversy. There are two, real people involved, not film characters or caricatures. They may both be painting their views from their own anger and hurt, both be suffering emotionally. How can one join a “team” in this? It isn’t a sport, and it isn’t entertainment for the masses.

  • Anon

    Thank you for this – while I don’t follow celebrity gossip outside of headlines, this one stood out to me as a victim of domestic violence and abuse growing up. Thank you also for writing from your specific perspective – your story on the surface is eerily similar to mine, down to the number of kids in your family, and after years of being away from the abuse I still have moments when I think that maybe I’m “crazy” and it “wasn’t so bad” until I come across another story of abuse that clicks with my experience and I feel validated and free again.

    Sadly, we do not provide children or adults with tools to understand what abuse is like on a daily basis, and the inherent secrecy, shame, and gray areas that go along with it makes it difficult for victims to escape and more difficult for outsiders to empathize. It’s not a game or even a strategy to tell others that you were/are abused – there is so little to gain and so much pain and vulnerability and derision to deal with… I can only imagine how much more painful it is to see it play out all over the media for days on end.

  • Anon for this

    Every time I read I story like this, I think of this quote from Margaret Attwood and I am chilled by the truth of it.
    “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

    • BSM

      On a recent episode of Inside Amy Schumer, she had someone from Everytown for Gun Safety on for her “Amy Goes Deep” segment. Their rep said that most women who are murdered with guns are killed by intimate partners or family members and that women in the US are 11x more likely to be murdered with a gun than in other developed countries.

      So yeah, it’s fucking scary to be a woman sometimes.

      • Leibfarce

        Even though men are far and wide the biggest victims of murder. Yep, scary to be a woman – more like scary to be a human.

        Women are also more likely to kill their children than men.

        Guess it’s scary to be a child too.

        • R.R. Q

          The world is a scary place.

      • wotmot

        And men are assaulted 3 times more often, murdered 40% more often, and are shot by the police three times more often than are women. Outside of sexual assault men are more, not less likely to be physically attacked. It is fucking scary to be a human at times, regardless of gender. Most women, and most men are not physically violent.

    • wotmot

      Unless your Travis Alexander, or someone like him. Then you aren’t afraid, and the woman just kills you. My ex threw things at me, kicked me, pulled my hair etc. Nobody outside my family took it seriously, even when done in public. Excuse me of the stereotype you present seems a touch weak.

  • ZOO

    I’m trying to figure out why I’m reacting to this differently than the Bill Cosby situation, because I definitely am. I’m feeling less surprised and more conflicted. Here’s what I’ve figured out so far:

    – I’m more familiar with Depp’s work than Cosby’s. The Pirates movies are some of my go-to feel-good flicks, and I wasn’t really exposed to Cosby growing up aside from some recordings of his stand-up and some TV reruns. This means I have more to “lose” by condemning Depp because now I can’t watch movies I love without watching an abuser.
    – Johnny Depp has never been held up as a paragon of fatherly virtue. He’s always been the weird, somewhat douchey uncle type. I didn’t really expect him to be a fantastic person, just not a despicable criminal. Cosby, on the other hand, cultivated a reputation of virtue for himself. That makes the revelation of his crimes feel much more like a betrayal.
    – I feel differently about the words “domestic abuse” than I do about “rape.” Which is sort of messed up, because they’re so closely related. But “rape” is a word that is typically used to connote “the worst thing EVER,” while “domestic abuse” sounds much more clinical.
    – I have a two-month-old son, and I desperately want to be able to share wonderful epic stories with him AND raise him to understand that abuse is horrible and wrong. So effectively, Johnny Depp just made my job as a parent harder.

    I don’t really know what any of that means for my movie-watching future or my parenting, but for now I’ll just have to waffle between sad, confused, and angry.

    • Roselyne

      Which is ironic, because, having lived through both rape and domestic abuse (different dudes), the domestic abuse affected me much worst.

    • AP

      This is how I feel about Cosby. I’ve never been the hugest Depp fan, but the Cosby Show was a family staple in my house growing up and always provided lots of warm fuzzies. I’ve seen every episode more than once. And now I can’t bring myself to watch it, both because I can’t support his work and because it’s an incredibly sad reminder of the pain he’s caused so many women.

  • Lucy

    Asking why Amber married “an old guy with such gross teeth” is ageism. You really undermine your cause when you resort to gratuitous insults about a person’s age.

    Equating abusers with “paunchy poor southern white guys” is also quite strange also since abuse happens in every demographic.

    And while I think there is something to Amber’s allegations, there is also nothing wrong with the “innocent until proven guilty” stance. People are harmed by judgement that turns out to be false.

    • Meg Keene

      Stephanie is describing her father, who abused her, there.

    • Rebekah

      Stephanie said, “Domestic violence looks like a lot of different things, and abusers don’t fit one stereotype. Sure, my dad was an abuser, but they aren’t all paunchy, poor southern white guys with a drinking problem.” She was acknowledging exactly what you said, that abusers are every demographic.

      And yes, you are right that “innocent until proven guilty” is a just tenet of our justice system, but again that is NOT THE POINT of this article. Stephanie linked to many articles documenting Depp’s abuse. Again, not the point. Her point was that we should not put the onus on the abuser before we believe and support them. That discourages the abused from coming forward and perpetuates abuse.

  • Anon

    As someone who was in an abusive relationship for many years I can also attest to the fact that it often doesn’t outwardly seem like one. I met a lot of skepticism too and now 5 years later, most of our mutual friends have chosen to just ignore the past. I don’t know if he is still like that to the girl who took my place, and maybe not, but it bugs me that everyone just moved on and conveniently forgot how he was manipulating and breaking me down.

  • Kara

    Ugg…when I heard that these celebrities were divorcing, I blew it off. Once Amber Heard requested a restraining order, I found it unexpected. As more and more information came out, I’ve become deeply saddened.

    Other commenters have mentioned how abuse has always been described or equated to physical abuse, and that’s what I grew up hearing about, too. However, once I was in college I (unfortunately) learned the hard way that abuse (domestic/dating) doesn’t mean just physical abuse.

    After my experience, I share the red flags of dating/domestic abuse. I’ve shared them with male and female cousins that have started university in the past few year, since this may be their first experience with people that are abusing.

    I wish I would have know that abuse can take many forms. T
    here’s a Red Flag Campaign to make people more aware: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/54da632be4b0c3a7f3a8a90d/t/5568939be4b0e9f9c348f8eb/1432916891549/Red+Flags+for+Abusive+Relationships.pdf

  • EF

    thank you, stephanie, for this paragraph of truth: ‘When I was growing up, I didn’t realize that my reality wasn’t the reality of other people that I knew. I didn’t realize that people lived with fathers who didn’t terrorize them, lived with mothers who didn’t have time for long talks and fun chats over snacks because they were constantly trying to keep their children alive. I didn’t even realize that what my father was doing to all of us was systematically wrecking our lives for years. I didn’t realize any of this until I was almost a teenager.’

    my first reaction — i shit you not — was ‘is throwing a phone really domestic abuse? throwing stuff is so normal…’
    and for a second i had to shake my head and remind that kid inside of me, NO THIS IS NOT NORMAL OR OKAY.

    i am so glad stephanie was the one to write this post.

    • stephanie

      This was a huge personal lesson for me – that all of the things I grew up with that WEREN’T physical abuse are also domestic violence. Holes in the wall, yelling as your first reaction, intimidation, throwing things around a room. It took me YEARS to realize that this is not a normal thing, it’s not what should happen, and it’s not how a lot of people live their lives. Thank you.

      Edited to add: a few weeks ago my son and I went out of town with my mom, and my son & I were sitting together when my mom said, “See, I didn’t get that with you guys.” and it started a whole conversation about how she didn’t have the luxury or freedom to be physically affectionate with us because she didn’t have the time to because she had to make sure basic, basic things were happening and didn’t have that mental space available. I thought that was… just really a tremendous thing to ponder.

      • EF

        I’m really glad you added in that edit. I could see my mom saying something similar — but we’d never continue to conversation as she continues to defend my father and I am so done. It’s heartening to see that sometimes, people can recognise problems and move one, though.

    • K

      I remember when I was 12 or 13, after yet another “tantrum” by my biological father, his girlfriend sat us kids down and told us that some people just expressed themselves by throwing things and screaming. She told us stories about her mom doing similar things and I can remember thinking even then, “No, no no, no. This is NOT okay.” Thinking back I am incredibly sad for her that she had convinced herself it was okay, and was trying to get us to believe the same.

  • Alexandra

    I can’t speak much to the Johnny Depp thing. But if we’re going to talk about abuse…

    Over ten years ago, when I was very young and very naive, I had a brief but intense relationship with an abusive man who was twenty years older than me. So many things about the experience were eye-opening, not least of which was how normal he seemed to everyone I knew and also how cruel/blame-y people were to me about it (the relationship ended traumatically, with me in the hospital due to an unplanned ectopic pregnancy…long, very dramatic story).

    The book: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft was incredibly helpful to me. I read it five or six times and it: a. made me see the abuser for what he was (very difficult with abusers!) b. gave me strategies to leave him c. helped me avoid all the very common mistakes and patterns that women fall into with men like this.

    If you’re like me and books are how you figure everything out, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

    And…I’ve noticed a thread about ageism going here, but I really think what should be emphasized as much as possible is how very important it is to treat victims of abuse with respect and kindness and not judgment. They need validation and support. Escaping is very difficult and most of what makes it so is the shame.

  • Anya

    A great article. I wanted to ask a question here which may be more philosophical but this line in the article struck me: “My seven-year-old is was a huge Captain Jack Sparrow fan, and the Pirates movies are were a staple in our household. Note: Those cross-outs are intentional, because we don’t get behind domestic violence in this home, and in the past few weeks it’s become clear to many of us that Johnny Depp is very likely an abuser”

    My question is this: do we separate the artist from the art? Or do we not?

    I don’t doubt Amber Heard’s claims; I believe that Johnny Depp has a temper/drug problem and that he’s a serial abuser (likely). But does this prevent us from enjoying Captain Jack Sparrow? How does enjoying a work that’s already been made ( at least the first three) and from which the artist no longer benefits financially harmful? The reason I ask is that I understand not wanting to give more money to someone with these values (yep, not seeing any Depp movies in theaters for a while; haven’t seen a Jude Law movie in a while; the list just keeps growing, sadly); but why would watching a POTC DVD endorsing his behavior?

    Hopefully this is okay to discuss.

    • stephanie

      Oh! I like that you asked this. I mean, for me, it just comes down to not wanting to see his face or hear his voice in my house. We also stopped watching Woody Allen movies after Dylan Farrow’s letter came to light in 2014, and it was an equally easy decision. But I mean, this is loaded and important — I still listen to John Lennon, and I’m pretty sure he was physically abusive toward his first wife, but I struggle more with that. My relationship with Johnny Depp movies isn’t that strong to begin with (the three I listed are the only three I have ever really liked), and my relationship with Woody Allen movies was 100% because of Annie Hall and Midnight in Paris, so dropping those two wasn’t hard. But my relationship with John Lennon’s music goes back decades, and it’s harder for me to shake. I also love Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but his work is FILLED with sexist stereotypes and misogyny.

      Obviously this answer is filled with contradiction, and I don’t really have a clear answer! But I look forward to hearing from others.

      • Anya

        This is something I struggle with about Depp. Pirates of the Caribbean movies (1-3) were how my friends and I made it through undergrad. They provided us with humor and plenty of inside jokes (including how I was Will Turner because I do stupid things, to quote my friend). So disowning them are so so hard for me. Meanwhile, people have mentioned Cosby and it was easy for me to say that I will never watch anything he’s done because I never grew up on the Cosby show (never heard of it until I was in college). And let me tell you: when the NHL scandal with Patrick Kane exploded, it just fueled my hatred for the Hawks.

        So I definitely hear you on when it’s easy and when it’s hard.

      • RAHP2017

        Hi, Stephanie. As a lifelong massive John Lennon fan, I can tell you how I worked through this. For me, it’s the people who continue to deny they ever did something wrong and seemingly never change their beliefs or reform in any way that I can’t get behind at all. Cosby and Allen are good examples of this. I think I could (years from now, mind you) get back behind Johnny Depp, who I’ve always enjoyed, if he comes clean, gets help, changes his ways, and becomes and advocate for women and against domestic abuse. This is what I like about John Lennon. He had a lot of flaws. By many accounts, he was abusive, violent (towards women AND men), and was unfaithful. Later in his life, he became an untiring advocate for peace and a feminist. He was open and honest about his past and the mistakes he made and he made an effort to not only change his ways in his personal life, but to advocate for those changes in society. I think that’s a powerful statement.

    • JC

      This is a fabulous question, in my opinion, and I’m going to take it academic for a minute and away from the personal, (wonderfully) raw nature of the original post, because I think this speaks to a new wave of interpreting art, and we’re going through the growing pains of that right now.

      (Puts on English teacher cap, prepares to make sweeping generalizations for which you will hopefully forgive her.)

      Modernism, which was both an artistic movement and a philosophical movement, was the primary mode of meaning making through the middle of the twentieth century. It emphasized a knowable, objective reality. An author/creator always had the final say in a work’s meaning, because they created that objective reality.

      The mid to late twentieth century saw the rise of postmodernism, which rejects this notion of an objective, knowable reality and instead moves toward a subjective and systems-based understanding. Things can be interpreted, reimagined, and they take on new meaning depending on context. (We like this because it lets Alan Cummings put on a new version of Cabaret every few years and have it turn out differently every time.) One of the hallmarks of postmodernism is “the death of the author.” That is, the author’s intent in writing something has no bearing on how a reader experiences it, and we should forget the “objective reality” of an author’s intentions.

      What this has done, though, is completely removed a creative endeavor from the person who created/participated in it, and that seems to work against this idea of subjectivity/systems. Yes, it’s true that I get to interact with Pirates of the Caribbean in my own unique way, given who I am and where I come from, but isn’t it also true that Johnny Depp interacted with it in his own unique way? And isn’t it true that his own unique way includes abusing his wife? These last two questions really complicate our relationship with art. If we were strict modernists, we could say “well Johnny Depp created it, and the only thing that matters is whether he intends his work to reflect his relationship with his wife.” If we were in the early days of postmodernism, we would say, “Johnny Depp created it, but it no longer has anything to do with him, and nothing related to Depp’s personal life has bearing on the work.” And now instead, we have to ask your question, “Is it ever possible to separate the art from the artist? And how much does my personal experience matter in that separation?”

      (End lecture. English teacher hat off.)

    • rg223

      This is probably an unpopular opinion, but to me, this is an issue eveyone has to decide for themselves personally.

      I can appreciate someone’s art and despise them as a person. I forget what the term is for holding two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time is, but that’s what this is for me. I can hate Bill Cosby but still appreciate what the Cosby Show meant to my black friends growing up. I can live in that gray area in the case of most artists.

      At the same time, I can appreciate the art but avoid it because the artist is a crappy person. In the above case, I’ll never watch The Cosby Show again. But if other people continue to love and watch it, while acknowledging Cosby is awful, I wouldn’t judge them. It’s only when people try to erase the wrongs a person did, because they like the art, that this becomes problematic for me.

      • Violet

        Are you referring to “cognitive dissonance”?

        • rg223

          Yessss thank you!

      • Jen

        I have an easier time separating it with music than with film, for some reason. Like, I can enjoy a song written by a French artist who murdered his girlfriend (Noir Desir), but I cannot watch the Cosby Show anymore. Maybe it’s having to look at the person’s face?

    • honeycomehome

      I think everyone has to answer it themselves. I think it also speaks to another point made higher up, that an abusive partner can still be a good person in other ways. They might produce great art, or be loving to others, or generous to charity or a great colleague. That’s part of why people react with “But he’s a nice guy! He can’t be that bad!” as if they are mutually exclusive.

      For me, I lean away from supporting the art of abusers and rapists because I feel like it contributes to a culture where it’s easy to brush these things off. It supports a culture where people are encouraged to think about anything and everything (movies, money, reputation) before they think about victims. It’s not about whether Johnny Depp himself is going to make money off me watching a DVD, it’s about not wanting to contribute to the idea that an abuser’s art is more important in the world than his victim. And when it’s someone famous, someone I don’t know as a family member or friend or colleague, the only relationship I have with that person is an artistic one. So choosing to end that relationship is the way I create a world more like the one I want to see: where victims are believed and seen as more important than any art.

      But it’s a personal decision, ultimately.

    • For me, it comes down to money. If I buy a ticket to a Woody Allen movie*, I am putting money in his pocket…money he uses to pay for the lawyers and the press people and whoever else is on their payroll to help discredit women/victims and continue to get away with more abuse. The only area where I struggle with this is with Cosby — if I had a kid, it would be really hard for me to not WANT to show a black child of mine The Cosby Show because it’s so iconic and special in so many ways. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it (which will probably be never). Anyway, supporting an artist — either through money, or just fandom — is often quite literally supporting them…propping them up so they have the social and literal capital to continue to work and to continue to abuse.

      *TBH I’ve never even seen a Woody Allen movie.

      • kth201

        I struggle with this, as well, but also because Cosby, Allen, and Depp aren’t the only people making money off the art they create — there are legions of cast and crew whose financial futures are now in flux because of a situation they didn’t create and have no blame for (I’m assuming that). Part of the way actors get paid is through royalties when the shows are sold into syndication, so if Cosby gets taken off the air because no one’s watching it, that means that all the other actors stop making money as well.

        Note: this isn’t a reason to NOT not watch/support Cosby. Just something I’ve been thinking about.

  • BDubs

    Stephanie, ALL THIS.
    Oh man, it’s like a weird gut-punch.
    I feel like the people I don’t know personally but admire or find attractive somehow are known BY me; like oh J. D. or Cosby would NEVER do that!
    But it’s false, it’s an illusion of personal knowledge. But it’s so damn sneaky.
    If someone thinks they are being abused, then they are being abused! No ifs ands or buts.
    I don’t care personally about poor Ms. Heard but I do care about her well-being as a person and a victimized woman.

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  • Kerry Boots

    It’s not uncommon for an abuser to cry victim. I’m not even a big fan of either(not that it matters). Didn’t even know they were in a movie together. But everything she has done is bringing up old feelings for me. Things I had blocked out. Abusers and victims really aren’t that different when it comes right down to it. An abuser no matter how covert will always show signs. An abuser is a Narcissist,Sociopath, or Psychopath. They prey on co-dependents. An abuser will tell anyone who will listen,even strangers, how horrible their ex is. A victim won’t because after listening to someone talk so much trash for so long they don’t want to be nothing like their abuser. An abuser talks in circles and contradicts themselves. I’ve been in support groups. I’ve heard stories of women hitting themselves in the face,first hand. I’m a survivor and her actions after the fact remind me of my abuser.

    • Green

      I’m a little confused and disturbed by your comment that there’s not much difference between abusers and victims. Further, I don’t understand how somebody calling for help, documenting violence, and filing for divorce and a restraining order are at all similar to the abuse that necessitates those actions. It appears that Ms. Heard took self-protective steps. Breaking things, screaming, and hitting are abusive and very, very different actions from somebody trying to safely leave a terrible situation. They are not the same actions and to suggest that they are is wildly inaccurate and a disservice to anybody trying to extricate themselves from similarly abusive relationships.

      • Gail

        Yeah I read it like Kerry Boots is suggesting Amber Heard did it to herself because she’s an abuser rather than a victim. Regardless of Kerry Boots’ own terrible experience, that’s not on.

  • Samantha Greams

    Sorry typos bug me:

    marry him it he first place?

  • disqus_DskKuQ8AOL

    She is a gold digging ho bag that married a man way to old for her. She is a lesbian….. why was showing a man anyway. He also deservessels what he gets for being an old perv

  • The fact of the matter is that this is he-said/she-said, and we have NO IDEA who did what to whom. I’ve heard that Amber is blackmailing Johnny. I’ve heard that Amber was arrested for domestic violence in her previous relationship. Those two things hold as much weight as “Johnny Depp is a domestic abuser,” so if you’re giving weight to one, you have to consider all.

  • AbigailP

    Thank you!

    My father never laid a hand on my mother or me, but he was emotionally abusive as hell. His fury was a thing to behold. Anything could set him off, so being around him was exhausting. You were constantly walking on eggshells. Sometimes just being mopey (like, ya know, a teen do) was enough to set him off — even though I’d let myself be dragged along to something I didn’t want to do.

    Mom left him a few years ago, but the damage was already done to both of us. When a man raises his voice, my body starts to tremble and tears start to form. I’m not even scared. It’s just a conditioned response.

    As we were discussing this very case, Mom said that some people were shocked when she told them why she left him. They couldn’t imagine him doing that. Which is strange because all I remember are the angry rants that so-and-so at work hated him and they’d all be happy if he were gone. Or that I didn’t want to spend time with him. Or was mopey when I was forced to go out with him/them when I didn’t want to. Or when my orthodontist ran late. Anything, really.

    But if I strain very hard, I can filter out all that and remember him around other people. He makes them laugh. He gets them talking (he’s a journalist, after all). He’s been to interesting places and done interesting things. So I suppose he *was* charming. And if he could charm people to not see his rage, a trained actor with millions of dollars and a devoted fan base should have an easy time of it.

  • TBrooks

    I was abused physically and sexually from age 10; then went on to an Emotional/Verbal/Physically abusive marriage, I am a surviving victim of Abuse. I have closely followed the AH & JD Divorce/Abuse claims;;and a lot of it doesn’t sit right with me, and yes I know that all victims do not react the same. I cannot say whether the DV happened in their relationship; but I can say that there are many holes in AH and her witnesses versions of the story, or should I say changing stories. Here is a timeline of what has supposedly occurred…


  • Leibfarce

    Sorry, I believe claims require evidence. There is evidence to the contrary that she was abused at all.

    Let’s let the court decide, this mob of public opinion bullshit has to stop.

  • Suzy

    You’re just kinda a dumb biased bitch, huh? Don’t work too hard writing the article. Just put up your own opinions of your readers and smatter in links to better reports. That’s all you would need to do, because I’m sure plenty of my fellow women who have suffered abuse will defend you even though there’s no fucking reason to. Jesus, I can’t imagine why we smart ladies have to work so hard to avoid being painted as feminists, what with you dragging us down.

  • Destiny Gordon

    What I find interesting is how so many of you are on here basically
    saying that abusers aren’t always textbook with their actions. Meaning
    they aren’t necessarily habitual abusers or have to have a past history
    of abusing other women. If that is the case, then why can’t it be just
    as debatable that Amber may be lying or at the least exaggerating? The
    writer above briefly mentions at the end how “more than ten million
    women AND MEN are victims of domestic violence.” I guess she says it
    but you guys don’t really have an open enough mind to consider that you
    all sound like a girls club that are naturally going to support Amber
    because she’s a female. If Johnny came out and said that she was
    beating on him or initiated fights, would you all be on here discussing
    that or supporting him? No one wants to acknowledge who has actually
    gotten arrested for a domestic issue? IT WAS AMBER that did, and when
    her then partner tried to deflect the charge by saying the arresting
    officer was bias or homophobic she got embarrassed because the cop was
    an openly gay woman.

    But you guys are going to still support her
    right?….because she’s a female? Let’s really be fair and
    open-minded. If you’re going to judge then judge both ways.
    Furthermore, Amber wants to slander Johnny’s character by talking about
    his substance abuse BUT what she doesn’t tell you is that she too has a
    history of substance abuse according to Ryan Leone who admitted to
    selling her “blow” in the past. He also mentions how she shot-up in her
    crotch etc. He gives a detailed account on Amber, how they met and her
    character. I think culturally, people generally side with the female
    in domestic issues regardless if the man has status or not. This forum
    reflects that and there are women that take advantage of the fact that
    men won’t raise their hands to hit them and will antagonize them. It’s
    happened to people in my circle.

    If you truly are fair about
    domestic violence victims being MALE and female Google “Ryan Leone on
    Amber Heard” and pick the facebook link. Read it and decide for

  • Destiny Gordon

    ..two things I want to mention to the writer Stephanie. 1. The reason why Amber started alleging abuse was because she filed for divorce after Johnny’s mother died and was receiving negative press. 2. There are NO pictures of Johnny fighting and/or “arguing” with his bodyguard at 2am. That was a bait title to get people to read the article, if you look at the pictures, there is NO arguing.

  • A

    the title of this article seems to imply we should automatically be on Amber’s side because she’s a woman?? i find that utterly ridiculous and extremely dangerous. for all of us.

    so why do so many people seem to think Amber is a liar about the abuse?
    maybe because she has already proven to be a liar (dogs in australia).
    And if her case against him is as strong as her “team” claims it to be, and she really wanted to keep it private, why does she and her “team” keep releasing statements and pictures and essays to the media to get support or “prove” she’s telling the truth and honorable?
    If anyone here has been through a court case themselves, they might understand what all the “statements” and actions by lawyers are intended to create – doubt – but it is a well-planned dance, performed to hopefully gain advantage with courts and of course the public, who have been invited to judge as well.

    It is too bad that other victims of domestic abuse may not come forward after watching this play out…but something stinks about this whole thing and it rhymes with turd
    *gut feeling*

    p.s. i find “feminism” to be very divisive. a truly powerful woman believes ALL people are equal and ALL people are entitled to respect and support, whatever their problems may be.

  • lynn

    amber said the reason for telling anyone was she cared about his image, but she changed her mind only after the judge told he she wasn’t going to receive 50million.
    Her conspiracy stories about how cops are lying doesn’t make you doubt her?
    The fact she’s never missed out on being photographed but claims she was beaten in the face repeatedly doesn’t sound fishy to you?
    I’ve been in a very toxic relationship and my bruises was clear. I’ve also volunteered time with women who’ve fled to a safety shelter. The bruises she did show are not of a fist more likely Johnny tossed her phone at her and it gazed her. Her fluttering and droopy eyes on the courtroom steps was enough for me. Women who are really abused would hide themselves and not breakdown in an angle where the paps knowingly could see her. She’s never had bruises that match the domestic violence she’s claimed. Johnny may throw things but nothing else has been proven. So why are you so hell bent on believing Johnny is guilty? Innocent until proven does hold merit?…does it not?

  • Stan Lippman

    I have believed this all along since the beginning JD’s PR machine was in aggressive mode to protect this movie star because there was too much at stake for JD. Every time I checked the comment sections about JD vs. AH saga, almost 99% comments were negative toward AH, calling her the name of a gold digger. This totally one-sided phenomenon really fueled my belief that JD machine was in action. (I know there are commenters who are paid to shape public opinions). Thus, I felt it was unfair for AH. I also believed her story from the start. I was happy for her finally out of such an abusive relationship and rather think she should deserve more than $7 million for what she went through.

  • Rich

    The main problem that I have with this whole Amber Heard circus, is that this has nothing to do with domestic abuse and is a completely different and unusual set of circumstances all together. Admittedly my bias is perhaps slightly geared towards Johnny Depp…….but I have a bit of knowledge and interest in psychopathy……and I’m pretty sure that Amber Heard would score highly on Hare’s psychopathy checklist.

    Let’s flip the coin a little bit here and let’s suppose it’s Johnny Depp suferring from Psychopathic abuse and gaslighting from Amber Heard. Exanples, that I can think off the top of my head are those ridiculous apparent leaked text messages, whether genuine or not were contrived in such a bizarre way and also trying to implicate that Johnny would have violent tempers attacking Amber and not even remembering it. Also Amber’s apparent responses are contrived and sound like the typical response of a psychopath (it’s hard to explain).

    Whether Johnny Depp is a little bit fucked up……and maybe he is guilty, but I think most likely not. On a more flippant note, you only have to watch Amber Heard’s interviews to see how vacuous and soulless she really is. Also, pay attention to her eyes….there is a lack of something there….a certain blankness and a couple of photos do reveal that psychopathic stare!

  • wotmot

    Why is it that Heard is automatically considered the victim, rather than the abuser? Or that she isn’t both a victim of, and perpetrator of domestic abuse? As for innocent until proven guilty. the ONLY “evidence” of abuse is from her. No public incidents, no hospital reports, no friends or employees coming forward… nada. So I ask again, why should someone be behind Amber Heard, rather than Johnny Depp? Why is she the victim, rather than the (emotional) abuser? I get so tired of this narrative where men and women are spoken of as having suffered from domestic abuse, but it is automatically assumed the woman is the victim, the man the abuser. Why are many people not behind her on this? Because it is her word alone, and Depp’s past lovers have stated they never saw any sign of such abuse. Ms. Kaloi, why do you assume she is the victim, rather than the abuser. .Exactly what causes you to assume she is the victim rather than the abuser? What is it that causes you to ” listen and believe” without question?

    • quiet000001

      This comment does touch on one point that I think is valid, which is that abuse in relationships is generally presented as pretty black and white – there’s an abuser who is one person, and a victim who is the other person, that’s it. But the reality may be that it’s just a horribly unhealthy relationship overall, and both people engage in some abusive behaviors.

      That doesn’t justify the abuse, of course, but when we have such a binary image of what abuse looks like, I think it makes it harder for people to recognize when they are in an unhealthy relationship, because if you are self-aware enough to recognize that you also do things to your partner that are on the normal “warning signs” lists, then you may well feel that means you aren’t a victim and so don’t deserve to be in a better situation. (Even if you adopted the abusive behaviors as a method of self-protection – once you become abusive you don’t deserve help, too bad for you.)

      I think that’s highly problematic, as it means that people are not as likely to see how bad a situation is and take steps to deal with it appropriately. It can (but does not always) perpetuate the men-are-abusers-women-are-victims stereotype, as well. So it is something we need to think about, imo.

  • Ashley

    My loving boyfriend (now ex) of 6 years is a very lovable person. Very lovable. Happy, jovial, all the time. Everyone likes him. I had a great 5 years with him until one day we had an argument and he went out of control and hit me and tried to choke me. I told my dad, my mom, my friends, no one believed me. Or no one want to believe me. At least they all know I was telling the truth. They all believed me because I had nothing to gain from this. I wasn’t divorcing a millionaire. I was also in disbelieve myself. A friend even asked me “how could you let him do this to you?”. What? I didn’t LET him, I fought back, he just chose to do it and chose to swing his fist just because he is an immature child. Everyone told me to forgive him,

    EVERYONE. My dad, my mom, they all said you should forgive him. He’s such a great person, you’ve been with him for 6 years. You were wrong to argue with him. For the record, the argument was him raging at me for talking beside him while he was on the phone with a mutual friend. That was the argument. He had hidden insecurities and jealousy towards me because I was making more money than him and he used that as an excuse to rage at me. If you read carefully you would see that the incident happened at 5 years and we were together for 6 years. I stayed with him for another year. Until one day I realize he never really learned the severity of his actions or how deeply it affected me, or how profound my forgiveness was. Every argument after the “incident” threatens to escalate into physical violence. At least in my mind. I knew I had to leave him.

    The point of this story. No one wanted to believe me. They all blamed me. imagine what Amber went through. She has tons of evidence. Photos, videos, texts, more photos, witness testimony. People, men, women (shame on you) said oh the video is faked, that’s not Johnny, pictures are faked, make up, bruises are faked, texts are faked, witnesses are biased. Get a GRIP!! Omg, You should all be ashamed of yourselves. and then when Amber said she doesn’t want a penny from Depp’s dirty money (which she totally entitled to have) Everyone said oh it’s for PR, it’s damage control, it’s for tax deduction (are you for real??) They stick to all the smear campaigne stories that Johnny’s team spin out.

    Studies have shown that people would rather do a lot of unpleasant things than admit they are wrong. That’s what this is, NO ONE WANT TO ADMIT THEY ARE WRONG. They all owe Amber an apology. I’ve followed this story and I’m so SICK of reading more misogynistic comments. I had refrained from posting or commenting but I’m so sick of all these men and women commenting that Amber is a liar or a manipulator or gold-digger. We women who support Amber NEED TO POST our words of support to let these mysogenistic commentor and AMBER now that SHE IS NOT ALONE. That many of us believe her. We need to comment to let these sick people know they are the minority and that they are wrong about Amber.

  • SD888

    SHE was the one convicted of spousal abuse! SCAM-ber is nothing but a grifter! Johnny is no angel and yes, I do think he screamed, yelled, slammed stuff around. But anything caught on video could easily have been edited and we don’t see the lead-up to his tantrums.

  • Panda Bear

    Well it is very clear now Amber Heard Retracted the DV “Without Qualification” She also Retracted “Without Qualification” the finger paint story is case some of you dont know what that means “Without Qualification” means its a admitted completely false statement that Never Happened! AKA a lie. This info is now sealed but it was out and many saw it So yah she lied! Thats what sociopaths do.

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  • mitty1

    and so…tge author’s past colors her ability to see what most likely happened here. Had she followed the case, she’d have paid more attention to things like the demand letter sent before any news of this broke, asking for cars, houses, millions she was nowhere near entitled to, with the promise to keep it quiet. He declined. Game on. She refused 3 depositions, hiring a criminal attorney to sit with her for the one she took. She settled immediately after for 7million less than what she was legally entitled to. Why? She has a DV arrest. That fact seems to not register with the author. the stereotype…women can’t be the abuser, even though Johnny’s body guards say they had to pull HER off him multiple times. There’s so much more legally to mention, but fast forward to why Elon broke up with her “manipulating” etc, etc. She counted on people like this author to blindly accept the accusations of a woman with zero proof. Remember, there was never a police report filed…cant lie on those. and no, I’m not a Depp fan, just one of millions who saw something wasn’t quite right as she walked out of the courthouse showing off a bruise, which was in a different place than where it was in the People magazine photo she sold. We are just people horrified that anyone could do this to another human being for money and revenge. What an awesome wife, filming her husband at his worst. He never touches her; he’s avoiding her slamming cabinets talking about the MF he’s mad at. It isn’t her, but that was her opportunity to show him in a bad light and egg him on. You’d be pissed too if you’d just lost all your money to thieves..who knows if that was what he was upset about. Regardless, he’s recovered beautifully away from her while she seems to be sinking lower and lower. How many stunt men does she need? Karma. It’s real, and it’s pay back time for Heard.