It could seem that each TikTokker, cable information commentator and chatterbox neighbor has an opinion concerning the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial that concluded Wednesday in Virginia. But for a lot of sexual violence survivors, there was a noteworthy absence from the dialog: Hollywood. While main stars and the trade activist group Time’s Up mobilized around different high-profile #MeToo circumstances like Harvey Weinstein’s and Bill Cosby’s, there was no such motion across the Depp-Heard trial, which entails allegations of home violence and sexual assault. (Depp stated on several occasions on the stand that he has by no means struck a girl, denied Heard’s allegation of sexual battery, and known as himself a sufferer of home abuse by Heard, which she denies.)
“Every single person who wore a Time’s Up pin on the red carpet of the Golden Globes, my question to you is, where are you and why are you not supporting Amber Heard?” says Alison Turkos, an activist and sexual assault survivor who organized an open letter to Time’s Up final August when it was revealed that former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought recommendation from high Time’s Up officers after he was accused of sexual harassment. “Why are you not willing to risk your power or privilege? It is very easy for your stylist to put a pin on your outfit and for you to walk the red carpet. Now is the time for you to show up for survivors.”
The Depp-Heard case differs from the Weinstein and Cosby ones in key methods: Depp has alleged that he, too, is a sufferer of abuse within the relationship; Heard is a lone sufferer, not a part of a gaggle who got here ahead; and Depp’s fan base has been vocal online, creating memes and hashtags that criticize Heard and forged doubt on her testimony. Nevertheless, Depp was extensively anticipated to lose the case.
Time’s Up can also be not the drive it was throughout these trials. Its board has dissolved and two CEOs resigned last year within the months after the Cuomo scandal exploded. And whereas the group had supplied professional Bono PR for victims through the Weinstein trial and provided the press with details about sexual assault, it has not a lot as tweeted about Depp and Heard. Neither have ladies who had been amongst Time’s Up’s most notable members, like Reese Witherspoon and Shonda Rhimes.
The Depp-Heard defamation trial started on April 11, and for several weeks outstanding activists stayed largely silent about it. On May 28, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke issued a press release on Instagram saying that the trigger was being co-opted and manipulated through the trial and calling press protection “one of the biggest defamations of the movement we have ever seen.” In the caption, Burke stated she and her group “have been harassed nonstop about [the trial] — mostly by people wanting us to ‘pick a side in the case.” An extended assertion posted on the group’s website stated that the Depp-Heard trial was “not about sexual violence at its core.”
“The stunning silence says it all,” says singer and actress Melissa Schuman, who alleged in 2017 that Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter raped her in 2003 when she was a member of the teen-girl band Dream. Carter denied the allegation, the Los Angeles district legal professional declined to prosecute as a result of the statute of limitations had expired, and Schuman turned the thing of online vitriol from Backstreet Boys followers, comparable to the sort that Depp followers have unleashed on Heard. “[The silence] is used against Heard, like, ‘Look, she is not believed.’ Nobody is willing to put their life on the line. There’s no benefit to speaking up in support of a survivor speaking out against power.”
Another leisure trade lady who was on the point of coming ahead with an allegation of sexual assault in opposition to a person who works in Hollywood says watching the trial has given her pause. “What this shows me is that all my worst fears are true,” she says. “The reason I don’t ever want to go public is that I’m afraid I’ll be treated like Amber Heard.”
Depp’s submitting of a defamation lawsuit in opposition to Heard is more and more frequent authorized software in #MeToo circumstances, one that’s changing the nondisclosure settlement, which new legal guidelines in states together with California have begun to restrict. “The use of defamation lawsuits has become a perfected art in certain industries,” says former California State Sen. Joseph Dunn, a lecturer at the University of California at Irvine School of Law and a legal professional who handles purchasers with sexual assault allegations. “It frankly is just another tool of cover-up.”
Many who work with sexual assault victims say the Depp-Heard trial, and the general public’s response to it might have a chilling impact on victims’ willingness to converse out about abuse.
“What I’m seeing play out is an imbalance of power,” says Louise Godbold, a Weinstein accuser and government director of the nonprofit group Echo, which conducts coaching as regards to trauma. “[The power imbalance] created conditions ripe for abuse, it gave rise to the defamation suit to threaten and silence the victim, and is now being used to manipulate public opinion and gaslight the world into believing the abuser is the victim. And it’s working.”
After the jury issued its verdict Wednesday discovering each Heard and Depp were responsible for defamation, however awarding considerably extra damages to Depp, one outstanding leisure trade group did concern a press release.
“We are deeply concerned the Depp-Heard decision will set precedent exacerbating barriers victims face in coming forward,” tweeted Women in Film, a leisure trade advocacy group based in 1973. “The trial and its reception demonstrated a regressive trend of retaliation against those who speak out about violence or abuse perpetrated by those in power.”
The group shared the telephone quantity for its helpline, provided sources for individuals of any gender who’ve skilled sexual harassment or misconduct whereas working within the leisure trade, and stated, “We’re here for you.”