Greater than 130 folks, together with Gloria Steinem, and organizations within the area of girls’s rights advocacy and home violence and sexual assault consciousness have signed an open letter to help Amber Heard, who misplaced a defamation go well with this 12 months introduced by her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, for an op-ed by which she stated she was a “public determine representing home abuse.”
The letter, which was completely shared with NBC Information forward of its public launch Wednesday, was signed by teams just like the Nationwide Group for Girls, the Nationwide Girls’s Regulation Middle, Equality Now and the Girls’s March Basis. It was written by a bunch of people that determine as home violence survivors and supporters of Heard.
Heard filed a short final month laying the groundwork to attraction a seven-person jury’s determination in Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Courtroom to award Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages in June. Heard, who had countersued, was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages however nothing in punitive damages.
Though The Washington Submit essay by no means talked about Depp by identify, Depp’s attorneys stated it not directly referred to allegations Heard made in opposition to him throughout their 2016 divorce. In the course of the trial, she testified in graphic phrases a few sexual assault she alleged, in addition to allegations of incidents of bodily abuse. Depp denied all allegations of abuse.
The letter, which denounces the “rising misuse” of defamation lawsuits to silence individuals who report home and sexual abuse, is likely one of the largest public reveals of help for Heard after months of silence from many teams after the decision.
Representatives for each Depp and Heard declined to remark.
The jury’s determination was a authorized vindication for Depp, who misplaced a libel case in the UK two years in the past over claims that he had bodily abused Heard. Justice Andrew Nicol dominated in opposition to Depp in 2020, saying a British tabloid had offered substantial proof to indicate that Depp was violent in opposition to Heard on a minimum of 12 of 14 events.
After the June verdict, activists known as out different teams, like Time’s Up, asking why a corporation that had championed victims on the peak of the #MeToo motion was now silent. Many who did communicate out in help of Heard, together with the Nationwide Coalition In opposition to Home Violence, have been met with ferocious backlash from Depp’s supporters on-line.
A spokesperson for the group behind the letter, who requested to stay nameless due to the net harassment she has confronted for posting in help of Heard, stated she believes that after the trial “people have been afraid to talk out as a result of they noticed what was taking place to the few who had.”
The letter says the “ongoing on-line harassment” of Heard and her supporters was “fueled by disinformation, misogyny, biphobia, and a monetized social media setting the place a lady’s allegations of home violence and sexual assault have been mocked for leisure.”
The vilification and harassment of Heard and her supporters have been “unprecedented in each vitriol and scale,” the letter says.
Kathy Spillar, the chief director of the Feminist Majority Basis, stated her group signed the letter after it noticed what she known as a “rising backlash” in opposition to girls who communicate out in opposition to perpetrators of sexual assault, home violence and intimate associate violence.
“If this will occur to Amber Heard, it’ll discourage different girls from talking up and even submitting reviews about home violence and sexual assault,” Spillar stated.
The letter says the decision and the net response to Heard “point out a elementary misunderstanding of intimate associate and sexual violence and the way survivors reply to it.”
Along with two dozen feminist organizations, greater than 90 home violence specialists and survivors’ advocates from all over the world signed the letter to “condemn the general public shaming of Amber Heard and take part help of her.” They embody medical doctors, legal professionals, professors, authors and activists.
Others who signed the letter echoed their considerations that response to the trial on social media was dangerous to on a regular basis victims of home violence.
“They see the setting that this has created, they usually really feel even much less secure than earlier than to come back ahead and communicate out in regards to the abuse they suffered,” stated Elizabeth Tang, the senior counsel for training and office justice on the Nationwide Girls’s Regulation Middle.
Tang stated abusers can use defamation fits to “silence their victims” or as retaliation in opposition to their victims for talking out.
We can’t silence victims through the use of courts and lawsuits as a solution to retraumatize them, as a result of that is what’s taking place
— Christian F. Nunes , nationwide president of The Nationwide Group for Girls
Tang stated that among the many “causes we felt it was essential to hitch this letter” are that “when courts don’t dismiss these defamation fits in early levels, it creates plenty of trauma for victims to should undergo a really lengthy, drawn-out and invasive course of simply to show that the issues they stated are true or that they didn’t defame the particular person they reported.”
Christian F. Nunes, the nationwide president of the Nationwide Group for Girls, stated she hopes the letter is a reminder that the court docket system ought to by no means be used to strong-arm victims to recant statements about their abuse.
“We can’t silence victims through the use of courts and lawsuits as a solution to retraumatize them, as a result of that is what’s taking place,” Nunes stated. She stated she hopes the letter raises consciousness of recent ways some abusers use in opposition to their victims, equivalent to social media campaigns.
Because the trial, there was extra public help for Heard on social media, the spokesperson for the group behind the letter stated. She and different nameless Heard supporters had been “working to fight disinformation for months” after they joined for the open letter initiative.
Consultants stated that they had a unanimous message they hoped to ship to survivors who learn the letter.
“Additionally it is a solution to communicate to all survivors and inform them, ‘You aren’t alone,’” Tang stated.