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Amber Heard wrote an essay for Porter magazine about the stigma associated with coming forward as a domestic abuse survivor and how this can change with the support of other women.
Heard addressed “my silent sisters everywhere” in the open letter. “You may have suffered alone behind closed doors, but you are not alone.”
She continued, “I want to remind you of your strength, a strength that has been multiplied by the number of women who stand silently behind you — a truth that allowed me to break down the doors I once found myself behind.”
Heard filed for divorce from Johnny Depp in May, citing allegations of domestic abuse. The duo settled their divorce for $7 million, which Heard pledged to donate to charities. In November, she released a domestic abuse PSA.
“Let’s start with the truth — the cold, hard truth. When a woman comes forward to speak out about injustice or her suffering, instead of aid, respect and support, she will be met with hostility, skepticism and shame,” wrote Heard, addressing the stigmas often associated with women who come forward to accuse men of abuse. “Her motives will be questioned and her truth ignored.” She said that while surviving trauma can be terrifying, it “can pale in comparison to what follows.”
When Heard came forward with the allegations and photos of her bruised face, many of Depp’s fans criticized her on social media and accused her of making up the allegations in order to receive more money.
“It’s no wonder so many of us feel we have to keep quiet or risk our own safety to try to maintain our dignity by quietly enduring,” said Heard. She said that it takes strength to come forward but that she sees that the world is changing and more women are supporting each other.
Both domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors and organizations prefer to use the term “survivor” rather than “victim” as a method of empowerment. Heard reiterated this preference, and explained her own personal reasoning.
“I was raised to be independent and self-reliant. I was never given nor wanted the burden of dependency,” said Heard. “I never felt like anyone would or could rescue me, so naturally I resented the label of ‘victim.'”
The actress did not mention Johnny Depp’s name once in the letter. She concluded with a motivational message of support. “As I write this today, I can promise every woman who is suffering in silence: You are not alone. You may not see us, but we are there.”
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