By Lexi Donnel | Reporter
Innocent until proven guilty, this phrase is vital to justice. A phrase has popped up in our culture which has good intentions, but taken to the extreme can prove to be dangerous: Believe Women. I understand it is important to have an open mind and listen when women say they have been victimized whether physically, emotionally or sexually. I understand the sentiment behind “Believe Women,” but I also believe evidence is crucial for these cases. Naturally, we have emotional reactions when we hear these stories, however, we need to remember there are two sides to every story. I bring this up due to Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit towards his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Heard accused Depp of physical assault in 2016, and it just went away until Heard posted an article on the Washington Post in 2018, “Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence and faces our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” This article caused Depp to sue Heard for $50 million for defamation. An interesting line in the lawsuit is that Heard is not the victim of domestic abuse, but a perpetrator of it. Why would Heard lie about this? The lawsuit said she lied for positive publicity. Depp claims he has turned over 87 surveillance videos to prove his innocence. Depp also claims Heard was abusive toward him, one time throwing a vodka bottle at him, severing his middle finger and shattering bones, requiring Depp to get surgery.
Who do I believe? I will wait until the lawsuit is over, but from what I have researched, more witnesses were backing Depp’s side, looking at video surveillance and unable to see the supposed injuries on Heard’s face. Only time will tell. This situation and the lack of attention brought toward the new developments show a disturbing trend of ignoring domestic abuse towards men. Statistics say 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men are victims of domestic abuse. Men are less likely to come forward about their abuse because they are afraid they will be seen as weak and will be told to “suck it up.” If a woman is a perpetrator, it can be seen as joke, or men are told they did something to deserve it.
There is also a lack of resources and people to turn to for male victims of domestic abuse. A National Parents Organization study of men who called domestic abuse hotlines for help said 64% were told “we only help women,” 32% were given numbers for a batterer’s program and 25% were given numbers for what turned out to be a batterer’s program. Around a quarter of the men were given references to programs that could actually help them.
Only 8% of men who called the hotlines found them helpful, 69% of them found them not helpful at all. Furthermore, 16% of the men who called said they were mocked and dismissed. One man said, “They laughed at me a lot and told me I must have done something to deserve it if it happened at all.” Another was asked the difference of weight between the man and the woman weighed and then hung up on him. Shockingly, 12% of the hotlines said the men were the batterer or the abuse was their fault.
“They told me women don’t commit domestic violence — it must have been my fault,” one of the interviewees said. One man said he was called a wimp. If the hotlines treated women this way, there would be protests and public outrage, but when men call and are laughed at or accused of being the real abuser or told they deserve it, everyone is silent.
Women are not angels, we can lie and be violent too. Society does not seem to want to accept these facts. Women should serve the same prison sentences as men for abuse. If there is no punishment for these actions, it tells women we can get away with abusing men just because of our gender. This is dangerous. I am not saying to believe every man who claims he was abused by a woman, but rather we need to spread awareness about this issue, because it seems that no one is bothering to.