A open letter in support of Amber Heard, which calls for an end to online harassment, has been signed by more than 130 organizations. The letter condemned the public shaming of the actor during and after her with her ex-husband and fellow actor Johnny Depp, which took place in Virginia earlier this year.
Depp accused Heard of defamation for a 2018 op-ed she wrote, in which she says she experienced domestic abuse. He sued for $50 million, and Heard then counter-sued Depp for $50 million. In the end,Heard $2 million and Depp $15 million, which was capped at $10.35 million.
The trial received widespread attention on social media and traditional media. Heard and her supporters faced online harassment throughout the trial, during which evidence against both her and Depp was presented and intimate details about their relationship and alleged abuse were shared.
The defamation trial “deeply concerned many professionals in the fields of intimate partner and sexual violence,” the letter states, and the ongoing harassment of Heard and those who support her is “unprecedented in both vitriol and scale.”
The letter was signed by dozens of organizations for women and victims of domestic violence, including Equality Now, an organization that supports the human rights of women and girls, and The National Women’s Law Center, which advocates for women’s and LGBTQ rights. Several individuals also signed the letter, including activist Gloria Steinem.
Much of the harassment Heard and her supporters received was “fueled by disinformation, misogyny, biphobia, and a monetized social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment,” the letter states.
From Joe Rogan’s podcast to “Saturday Night Live,” jokes about the trial were widely shared on traditional media – but seemed endless on social media, with much of the commentary disparaging Heard.
The group is calling for an end to “a monetized social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment,” according to a news release.
One of the signees, Elizabeth Tang, said in a statement that “everyone should be able to report abuse without fear of retaliation,” but survivors often face retaliation “including, increasingly, through the misuse of defamation lawsuits.”
Tang, who is senior counsel for education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, said the “threat of a defamation suit alone can silence a survivor.”
“And if a survivor has already reported, their abuser can misuse defamation law to force them to recant, punish them for coming forward, or continue the cycle of abuse,” Tang continued. “In the aftermath of the high-profile Depp-Heard defamation trial and the vitriolic online harassment unleashed against Heard and her supporters, we are deeply concerned that survivors will be further intimidated from reporting abuse.”
The letter comes months after the June verdict and as Heard, who filed an appellate brief in October, is gearing up for an appeal. She notified the court that she wasin July.
After the verdict, Heardshe was “heartbroken” by the decision. The 36-year-old said she is even more disappointed in “what this verdict means for women,” calling it a “setback.”
“It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke up could be publicly shamed and humiliated,” she said. “It sets back the idea that violence against women should be taken seriously.”
“One of the first things she said when she came back from the verdict when we went into the conference room, was ‘I am so sorry to all these women,'” Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, who represented Heard at the trial, told” in June. “She felt like she had let down all of these women because she had more evidence than most people do. And yet they still didn’t believe her.”
Depp said in aafter the verdict the jury “gave me my life back.” Days later, and thanked his fans for their support during the trial.
“To all of my most treasured, loyal and unwavering supporters. We’ve been everywhere together, we have seen everything together,” Depp captioned the TikTok. “We have walked the same road together. We did the right thing together, all because you cared. And now, we will all move forward together.”