Domestic abusers using Depp trial to terrorise and gaslight victims, psychologist warns

‘The trial has had immense damage and will have ripple effects for years,’ Jessica Taylor says

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
Tuesday 31 May 2022 20:16 BST
<p>Dr Taylor says the trial between the two Hollywood actors has ‘vindicated’ abusive men around the world </p>

Dr Taylor says the trial between the two Hollywood actors has ‘vindicated’ abusive men around the world

Domestic abusers are using the lawsuit between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard to terrorise and gaslight their victims, a prominent psychologist has warned. 

Jessica Taylor, who specialises in sexual violence and victim blaming, told The Independent that dozens of women have told her their abusive male partner or ex-partner referred to them as “Amber” or “Ms Heard” after they tried to stand up for themselves.

Dr Taylor said the trial between the two Hollywood actors has “vindicated” abusive men around the world and warned the case will have damaging “ripple effects” on women for years to come.

Mr Depp is currently embroiled in a high-profile defamation lawsuit against Ms Heard in Virginia in the US.

The Pirates of the Caribbean actor sued Ms Heard in March 2019, claiming a column his ex-wife wrote for The Washington Post about domestic abuse was defamatory and requested $50m in damages. Ms Heard submitted a $100m countersuit.

Although the article does not include any reference to Mr Depp, his legal team argues the piece contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they maintain is “categorically and demonstrably false”.

Dr Taylor, previously a senior lecturer in Forensic and Criminological Psychology at the University of Derby, said: “I’m getting comments from women from all over social media who are being called ‘Amber’ by their abusive ex, or their husbands or boyfriends. 

“It is being used by perpetrators when the woman is seen to be overacting, or getting upset, or challenging them on their abusive behaviour.

“In all the situations, the men have grabbed their partner, screamed at them or threatened them. With the abusive ex-partners, they often have convictions.”

The psychologist said a woman informed her that her ex-partner branded her “Ms Heard” after she asked him to talk more quietly when he screamed at her in front of their baby daughter.

Dr Taylor, whose research also examines the pathologisation of women in mental health settings, added: “Amber Heard has become the personification of victim-blaming and misogyny. The trial has had immense damage and will have ripple effects for years.

“It worries me you have got men who have watched this trial and created this representation of women as being pathetic liars who are psycho.”

Dr Taylor, who set up Victim Focus, an organisation which tackles discrimination against abuse victims, said she does not think Mr Depp cares whether he wins or loses the case against Ms Heard.

“He promised her global public humiliation,” the psychologist said of Mr Depp. “He has laughed through the case. That hasn’t been scrutinised. Imagine if Amber had done that. That is where the double standards comes in. She has been scrutinised for crying.”

Ms Taylor added: “His texts are misogynist. He talks about murdering her, and burning her body, what more do people want.”

In a message to Paul Bettany in 2013, Depp said: “Let’s burn Amber.” He added later: “Let’s drown her before we burn her. I will f*** her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”

While in a separate text shared in court, Mr Depp said Ms Heard was “begging for global humiliation” after she filed for a restraining order.

The text was allegedly sent on 15 August 2016, according to court documents – a few months after Ms Heard sought a restraining order against Mr Depp in late May the same year.

“She’s begging for global humiliation… She’s gonna get it,” Mr Depp texted, according to the court exhibit.

“I have no mercy, no fear and not an ounce of emotion, or what I once thought was love, for this gold-digging, low level, dime a dozen, mushy, pointless dangling overused flappy fish market,” the actor added.

“I’m so f***ing happy she wants to go fight this out!!! She will hit the wall hard!!!,” he wrote.

“I met a f***ing sublime Russian here… Which made me realize the time I blew on that 50 cent stripper… I wouldn’t touch her with a goddam glove. I can only hope that karma kicks in and takes the gift of breath from her,” Mr Depp added.

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