That emotions ran so high worldwide in the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard, wasn’t just because it was about famous stars, as many analyses, or because it was like a soap opera. Sure, the painful glimpse into the ex-lovers’ private lives no doubt kept people glued to the screen, but what made the stakes so high was that actually the dogma’believe the survivor‘ was right.
With the rise and success of the #MeToo movement, which denounced sexual harassment and brought down powerful men, the idea that women raising (sexual) violence are always the victims and always speak the truth. The breeding ground for this is there: too many women are victims of sexual or domestic violence. In most cases, women are not believed or helped when they report it. Barriers are erected, managers or the police do not take matters seriously.
That is a serious and persistent problem that needs to be tackled at the roots. An important part of the solution is that you take declarants seriously, investigate their case and find the truth. This way you can actually do something about the epidemic problem of violence against women. Because it is epidemic.
It should not be the case that companies or the judiciary only start moving when something is on screen or a prominent pervert falls from his horny pedestal. Violence against women affects people in all walks of life and the path to help and legal support should be the same for everyone, not just if you have a fat bank balance or the right network.
But taking women seriously does not mean blindly believing everything. That may be a regular occurrence on social media, but you can hope that there will be more restraint in a constitutional state, because the facts can sometimes just be different. Because what seems clear at first glance, the deeper you dig, the more murky and complex.
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I experienced it myself in the years when I still interpreted for the police and the judiciary and during interrogations gradually saw how a perpetrator turned into a victim or a victim into a confused or resentful person, eager for revenge.
People do the worst things to each other. Also, and especially in relationships that have their own, intimate, complicated dynamics that outsiders have neither sight nor control of. Do women often lose out? Doubtless. Does it mean that we should just lump everything together and condemn all men without any objectivity or investigation?
If this case does anything, it is to remind us that it is good to doubt, to delay judgment, to investigate accusations, not to take everything lightly. That it is possible that a man is the victim. That a woman can be the aggressor. That nuances, shades of gray can shed a different light on a case. That relationships can be so ugly that it’s better to keep your distance and not take sides.
But what this case has also shown is that there is no fair trial as far as the public is concerned. You saw that after the verdict was announced: those who had dug in beforehand did not deviate from it. Some in Camp Depp gave free rein to their conservative fanaticism. Kamp-Heard complained about unfair justice and sexism. In The Guardian An opinion piece appeared in which the author reduced Heard, but actually all women, to victim.
So even if it’s on tape that you beat, humiliate and defy your husband, you’re still the victim, because you’re a woman. I don’t think that does justice to us women. If the goal is to combat violence and help victims, one victim is one too many. Even when it’s a man. No one benefits from witch trials. Certainly not women.
Maybe it’s a good idea not to meddle in the private lives of others, and not to exploit other people’s misery to support one’s own dogmas. It is sad how legions of people take matters into their own hands and wage war over complete strangers, when each case stands on its own.
We don’t know anything in the end. Go on the fuss detox. Let people muddle through, keep your cheap moral judgment to yourself and clean your mirror, because there is plenty to tidy up at home.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of June 4, 2022