The Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation case was perhaps the most famous and public trial since the OJ Simpson case. Seemingly overnight, the six-week long trial garnered millions of views. besides the ability to watch the trial live, we saw a surge in social media posts on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and other platforms from influencers, fans, podcasters, legal analysts, and psychologists, all weighing in as to who was “right” and who was “wrong.” The overall tone, however, was that Ms. Heard is a liar followed by the popular hashtag #JusticeforJohnnyDepp. While it cannot be lost that this case was one regarding defamation, the issue of domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, came to the forefront.
This author does not take a position as to whether either party was the victim or abuser of intimate partner violence as domestic violence is an intricate issue. Rather, and of significance, this case brought to light the many misconceptions about domestic violence that remain prevalent today. First, contrary to perhaps popular opinion, domestic violence is not simply physical assault. As set forth in the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, New Jersey recognizes nineteen (19) criminal offenses that constitute domestic violence. Those criminal offences are: homicide, assault, criminal coercion, terroristic threats, kidnapping, robbery, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, contempt of a DV Order, Sexual Assault, Criminal Sexual Contact, Lewdness, Criminal Mischief, Burglary, Criminal Trespass, Harassment, Stalking, Cyber Harassment, and any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury. Domestic violence comes in the form of physical abuse but can also be emotional and psychological.
Second, domestic violence does not discriminate based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, education, and socio-economic status. Both men and women can be victims of domestic violence. Furthermore, one can be a victim of domestic violence or a perpetrator of abuse regardless of how much money is in their bank account.
Third, and surely not last, there is a misconception that a victim of domestic violence can easily escape from an abusive relationship. From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem easy for a victim to leave or seek help. Often victims of domestic violence are fearful of the unknown or how they may be perceived by the public. A victim may also fear unknown financial outcomes especially if they rely on their abuser for monetary support. One may also fear for the safety of others (family/children) if the abuser threatens the victim with harm to others. Even if a victim wishes to flee, they may not be aware of the resources available to them to escape their abuser. Regrettably, these fears create a crippling effect.
There is at least one thing we should collectively agree on as a result of this trial: as a society we must recognize and continue to educate others regarding the complexity of domestic violence.
If you have any questions regarding the legal remedies available to you, we at Musulin Law Firm are only a phone call away.