My past is still a source of pain, both physical and mental. cPTSD is a difficult beast to live with, and it will never truly go away. Occasionally, things happen out in the world that are triggering. The Depp/Heard trial, and more so, the social saturation, the reactions of people I know, the overwhelming toxicity that surrounded it.
Everyone, everywhere lost this trial. But especially those of us who are survivors and victims.
This is an attempt to put into words my thoughts, feelings – anger, sadness, disgust – and to find a way to deal with a world that feels much less safe.
Content Warning: This post contains discussions and descriptions of abuse, and the impact of this trial on survivors.
Victims can abuse.
Abuse *of any kind* is inexcusable.
Domestic violence is never *justified*.
Substance addiction does not *excuse* anything.
These are choices. It’s always a choice.
Nothing, no one, is ever black and white. Guilt versus innocence is not a dichotomy. Each person has their own sliding scale. No person is perfect.
Both are victims. Both are abusers. Both of these statements are true. One does not negate, invalidate or even minimise the other.
Legal processes, as in this trial, can be used to continue, widen, deepen and intensify such abuse. Winner takes all, the loser is destroyed. This is inhumane and abusive.
A jury is not trained to recognise the DARVO defence used by abusers. Juries are neither qualified nor experienced in how abusers deny and reverse victim/offender.
All domestic abuse trials should never be public, especially with famous people in this age of hateful, unfiltered, and oft misogynistic social media.
The media coverage is deeply biased. That bias can appear either way, but is skewed to the one who has more fame.
But the social media memes and streamer commentaries are toxic, and overwhelmingly one-sided.
This trial continued the abuse, widened, deepened and intensified it, perpetrated by the one who had the more powerful, the larger fan base. The other was destroyed.
Yet, both are abusers. And both are victims. One should not, must not be allowed to invalidate the other.
That a violent abuser and substance addict is now loudly and publicly celebrated for having ‘won’, that the abuse he perpetrated was ‘justified’ and ‘excused’, is sickening and scary.
The damage to #MeToo is chilling. These victims don’t disappear, although they appear to – now even more hesitant to speak up. The abuse they have suffered and continued to suffer today does not stop.
Worse, the celebration of a violent abuser empowers abusers.
Personally, I feel much less safe. Much less accepted, believed, supported. Both in the world, and in various friend circles.
Everyone, everywhere lost this trial.
On how this affects survivors
Survivors can’t help but centre themselves and their experiences. We will relive similar moments, of the abuse, the fear, the self-loathing, the doubt. Also of how people around us did not support us, did not believe us, did not help. Or when those people actively supported the abuser instead.
I’ve caught myself thinking oft on what the police and lawyers said – that I would never win.
That was despite my father’s admission of the 14 years of daily abuse to psychologists and in family group therapy.
They said a trial would destroy me.
They had my long-term mental health in mind when they counselled not to litigate. They described in great detail how the abuser’s defence would claim that “it was excused by my father’s childhood”, that “alcohol abuse excused it”, that I must have done something to “ask for or encourage it”.
As a 0-14 year old child!
But it was a different time. Abusers were rarely convicted. Victims were so rarely believed. I was “just a child” and this was long, long before #MeToo.
I had hoped it had changed in the last 30+ years. Especially as more high-profile abusers are being convicted. Victims are speaking up.
I had thought that society as a whole had become better – believing and supporting victims.
But the toxicity in the media and especially on social media surrounding this trial, the sheer number and loudness of the apologists for such abusive behaviour, and those who justified and defended the abuse (in either direction) …
I just can’t …
These thoughts continue to rattle. Pain, fear, sadness and anger have caught my breath. In writing and publishing this, I hope to start processing it.
To look after my mental health, I choose to pull back. To put up walls. To leave mainstream social media. To reduce and cut contact with people, friends, and communities who have celebrated this as a win.