domestic violence

Heard-Depp Trial Memes Could Have ‘Chilling Effect' on Abuse Victims, Expert Says

The jokes being made at Amber Heard's expense are a "slap in the face" for all domestic violence victims, one survivor said

FILE - Amber Heard testifies as Johnny Depp looks on during a defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 5, 2022.
Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AFP via Getty Images (File)

As a survivor of domestic abuse, Ruth M. Glenn said watching the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp defamation case has been triggering.

It’s not that she believes one side over the other. It’s more that the inescapable memes and jokes on social media emanating from the trial have exacerbated the trauma of surviving abuse to another level.

Depp and Heard have been in a weeks-long battle in a Fairfax County, Virginia, courtroom. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor is suing Heard for $50 million in damages over a 2018 essay she wrote for The Washington Post in which she said she had become the “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Although the essay never mentions Depp by name, his attorneys said it indirectly refers to allegations she made against him during their 2016 divorce. Heard is countersuing Depp, seeking $100 million in damages.

Amber Heard took to the stand to testify on Wednesday in her ongoing trial against Johnny Depp. While on the stand, the "Aquaman" actress got emotional recounting the first time her ex-husband allegedly "physically" hit her. Depp previously testified at the trial, saying Heard's domestic abuse allegations are "disturbing" and "heinous."

Glenn, who is the chief executive officer of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, is among a contingency of social media users following the case who have been horrified by the way some on platforms like TikTok and Twitter have turned Heard’s testimony about alleged abuse she endured during her relationship with Depp into memes, jokes and lip syncs. 

“I can’t imagine what this might be doing to someone who may eventually want to seek safety and support,” Glenn said. “Whether it’s Amber Heard or Johnny Depp, how dare us make fun and make light of someone who is sharing something very personal — no matter how we feel about that person.”

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Anyone affected by domestic violence can receive help, advice, information or crisis intervention by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visiting the website

Amber Heard's legal team wrapped its cross-examination of Johnny Depp amid their defamation trial. Multiple tense audio clips of Heard and Depp were played, including one where he suggested that "a bloodbath" could ensue if things escalated.
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