Over the past few weeks we’ve heard accounts of Johnny Depp’s “good character” from family, friends and former lovers seemingly desperate to convince us of his innocence against claims of abuse from soon-to-be ex-wife Amber Heard.
Until now, Heard’s friends have seemed less willing to publicly discuss the couple’s relationship (or perhaps people have been less willing to listen) but now several have begun to speak out, including photographer iO Tillett Wright, who has penned a blistering blog post defending the actress.
According to Wright, a close friend of both Heard and Depp, the abuse was so profound she eventually called 911.
“I called 911 because she never would,” she wrote for Refinery 29.
“Because every time it happened, her first thought was about protecting him. Because every time it happened, the sweet, loving man we all cared for so much would come back with apologies, profuse, swearing up and down that he understood how bad what he had done was, and swearing never to do it again.”
Wright says the reports of violence began with a kick on a private plane but soon began to escalate from pushing to punching to an eventual all-out assault, after which Heard woke up “with her pillow covered in blood”.
“I know this because I went to their house,” Wright says.
“I saw the pillow with my own eyes. I saw the busted lip and the clumps of hair on the floor. I got the phone call immediately after it happened, her screaming and crying, a stoic woman reduced to sobs. ”
She goes on to describe her own heartbreak over Depp’s alleged actions and the “baffling mental pretzel” Heard would get herself into trying to balance “the desire to protect [her] aggressor, with the knowledge that their swollen face is unacceptable.”
“We all loved him, but especially, especially her, and she wanted to believe that the behaviour wasn’t going to last,” she says.
A photograph of bruising Heard allegedly obtained when Depp threw a phone at her face. Source: Getty
"We say domestic violence is bad, we condemn it. But as a culture, we create the most fertile breeding ground for it to thrive. The cycle of abuse is perpetuated by every person who asserts that the victim more likely punched themselves rather than addressing the very real evidence of violence in front of them. The culture of victim-blaming is the very thing that protects abusers' ability to get away with this kind of behaviour."
Wright's account follows the publication of a series of texts between Heard and Depp's personal assistant, Stephen Deuters, about the alleged abuse, including one which mentions the incident in which he apparently kicked her.
Meanwhile Heard's ex-girlfriend Tasya van Ree has also come forward, clarifying events surrounding Heard's 2009 domestic violence arrest, saying the whole thing was "over-sensationalised".
The couple were fighting at Seattle International Airport when Heard allegedly grabbed van Ree’s arm, resulting in her arrest, she said.
Heard was never prosecuted, however, and van Ree claims she was "wrongfully accused for an incident that was misinterpreted".
Amber Heard's ex-girlfirend Tasya van Ree described her as "a brilliant, honest and beautiful woman". Source: Getty
"Amber is a brilliant, honest and beautiful woman and I have the utmost respect for her," she wrote in a statement.
"It's disheartening that Amber's integrity and story are being questioned yet again."
Regardless of her previous conduct, as Wright points out, nothing Heard has ever done would or could warrant her abuse.
"Right now, every battered woman in the world is watching this media circus, internalizing the message that when they come forward for help, when they break the cycle, they will be called a gold digger, a cheater, and be accused of having faked it all for attention," she says.
"That's why, when it happened again, when I was on the phone with both of them and heard it drop, heard him say, 'What if I pulled your hair back?' and her scream for my help, I wondered like so many times before if I should break the code of silence that surrounds celebrities and invite the police into the situation, and in a split second decided that, yes, I was going to.
"It doesn't matter what was said between the two lovers, it doesn't matter if the romance was coming to an end, because nothing warrants that response. No person, ever, should suffer violence at the hands of the person they love.
"Whether we loved him or not has nothing to do with it. When it comes to violence, 'love' is no longer part of the equation."