Actor Amber Heard has seen the way institutions protect powerful men accused of abuse and sexual violence. The way they close their ranks around them, leaving the accuser – usually a woman – open to a whole new kind of attack.
She’s seen it in “real time”, from the inside.
In mid 2016 the Justice League star filed for divorce from Hollywood heavyweight Johnny Depp, to whom she’d been married since February the previous year. Court documents from the settlement were obtained by the press and revealed Heard was seeking a restraining order against him, alleging she’d been subjected to verbal and physical abuse. Photographs were then published by PEOPLE that showed her with a blackened eye and split lip, and a video emerged online of him shouting at her and throwing a wine glass.
Depp vehemently denied the allegations – he still does – and no charges were laid.
Instead, in an op-ed for The Washington Post, the 32-year-old wrote that it was she who was punished.
Though Heard didn't mention Depp by name, she gave insight into what happened when she became "a public figure representing domestic abuse" two years ago, how she was left to endure "the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out".
"I write this as a woman who had to change my phone number weekly because I was getting death threats. For months, I rarely left my apartment, and when I did, I was pursued by camera drones and photographers on foot, on motorcycles and in cars. Tabloid outlets that posted pictures of me spun them in a negative light," she wrote.
"I felt as though I was on trial in the court of public opinion — and my life and livelihood depended on myriad judgements far beyond my control."