If you’re like me, you follow celebrity gossip casually. In this day of 24 hour “news” programing, the big stories out of Hollywood are hard to miss as they show up on CNN and BBC regularly. I listened with half an ear when Amber Heard filed for divorce from Johnny Depp on May 23rd. Call me cynical, but I never thought those kids were going to make it, so I wasn’t too shocked. I filed away news of their split and didn’t give it a second thought.
Until I heard that Amber Heard was alleging that Johnny Deep abused her for the duration of their 4 year relationship- including during their 15 month marriage. Then I was all ears.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
- Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten.
- On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Let those statistics sink in for a minute because they are sickening.
Johnny Depp may not fit the stereotypical picture that we all have of an abuser, but domestic violence can hit any family regardless of ethnicity, economic status and social clout. Domestic violence isn’t always about the physical abuse either- emotional abuse can be just as damaging when one partner harasses, stalks, intimidates, belittles, ridicules or controls all the money.
Amber Heard may not look like the stereotypical victim either – and in many ways, she’s not because she has the economic means to leave. The number one reason that people don’t leave their abusive partner is because they don’t have the financial resources to do so- especially when the couple has children. If the abusive partner controls the finances, it can be next to impossible for a victim to safely start over. According to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, a victim will leave her partner an average of seven times before finally leaving for good. The reasons why are numerous- including, hoping their partner can change, loving their partner, “for the sake of the children,” and financial constraints.
Since the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp story broke, I admit to following this story with a very close eye. I’ve seen the pictures that Amber has provided. I’ve heard all of the stories that Johnny’s camp have shared about what a stand-up, gentle man he is. And really, I don’t know if Johnny Deep is an abuser but I do know that abusers are rarely who you think they are. In many cases, abusers present as anything but. They seem gentle, loving and devoted and no one wants to believe the worst.
Remember that stat that abuse victims leave and go back on the average of seven times? Part of that is because those told about the abuse make excuses for the abuser- “It’s not that bad. I’m know s/he loves you!”- and the victim starts to doubt herself. When you hear from your partner that you deserve what you’re getting and then your friends/family/society picks apart your story, it’s easy for someone with a shattered self esteem to give up and give in.
Thankfully, both here in Syracuse as well as nationally, there are places that you can contact that will believe you. So if you’re in an abusive relationship, reach out:
- Contact Community Services: 315-251-0600
- Crisis & Development Services: 1-877-342-7618
- National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
- New York State Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-942-6906
- Onondaga County Human Services Info and Referral: 315-435-8300
- Syracuse Police Department Domestic Violence Line: 315-442-5332
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
- The Salvation Army Domestic Violence Services: 315-479-3651
- Vera House: 315-468-3260