opinion

"Johnny Depp says his relationship was just 'volatile'. Here's why I don't buy it."

I was scared watching Johnny Depp rage in his kitchen. Scared for Amber Heard, who was secretly filming as he slammed cupboard doors and stumbled and yelled in the early hours of the morning. Terrified when he discovered the video tape. The situation felt so close to being out of control.

Now their divorce is settled, and the pair have released a joint statement.

“Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love,” the statement read, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm. Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future. Amber will be donating financial proceeds from the divorce to a charity. There will be no further public statements about this matter.”

Heard has retracted her allegations of domestic abuse – that on May 21 Depp brutalised her. She did this with prejudice, meaning she can never re-file. She also withdrew her request for a restraining order and has settled the divorce out of court for $7 million.

She did all of this, even though she was certainly more scared that I was.

I don’t buy it.

We’ve all seen the video where Heard repeatedly asks Depp:

“I just woke up. This morning you were fine, really sweet. What happened?” 

As if something had to “happen” for Depp to behave like that. As if he needed a reason for throwing things around and intimidating his partner of four years. But that’s the catch: men who behave like this don’t need a reason.

Amber submitted photos in court, showing bruises around her eyes. Image via Twitter.

Heard's questions of "what happened" is echoed again in the couple's statement. Instead of naming Depp for what he has done the blame is shifted.

There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm. Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future.

I feel sick.

I am sickened by the fact we, as a public, have been asked to buy this. But, even more so, I am terrified that Heard has had to stomach her fear and her terror with two paragraphs of empty words sent out to the entire world.

Words that ignore the real problem; that Johnny Depp has allegedly abused his wife. That he is, at best, a threatening drunk, at worst, a violent drunk.

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Words in a statement that say his behaviour was simply a symptom of a "volatile relationship". A "relationship bound in love".

(As if only true love can be seen through violence and screaming matches. As if out-of-control manipulation is a sign of intense affection. What a dangerous premise.)

Feelings of powerlessness, a constant feeling of fear that something said or done will spark outrage, violence or accusations will stay with someone in a 'volatile' relationship, just like they would stay with a domestic abuse victim.

They are the same thing. Just one description sounds better.

Image via Getty Images.

Jealously, or names scrawled by Depp's bloody hand on the bathroom mirror, are not signs of a committed, protective partner.

Slamming doors, and yelling, and throwing phones, and demanding answers to awful, no-answer-is-a-good-answer, dead-end questions, is not the sign of a loving relationship.

These are the actions of a bully.

Confusing violence with passion is dangerous.

How sad that this is the story of too many domestic violence cases. Where it's too difficult, too traumatic, too expensive to fight it further, so the whole 'saga' is wrapped up in a pretty little packet of misleading words and undermining phrases.

Cases where shifting blame is more convenient than telling truths, and courtrooms and reporters make everything feel too much.

Too often these cases end in words like "volatile" and "intense", without any tangible outcome. They're words uttered in the hope the whole thing will go away.

But it doesn't go away.

Heard will have to push deep her own pain, so the public 'volatility' in their relationship might be forgotten. So Depp, and the world, can move on.

Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future. 

Heard is an example of how victims, or survivors, of domestic violence lose again, and again. We didn't call Depp out for what he really is. We continue to shift blame wherever possible. And we wash it all away as an "intensely passionate, sometimes volatile relationship".

When will the person responsible, actually foot the blame?

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