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Amber Heard-Johnny Depp trial memes may have ‘a chilling effect’ on victims of home abuse, skilled says

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

It’s not that she believes one facet over the opposite. It’s extra that the inescapable memes and jokes on social media emanating from the trial have exacerbated the trauma of surviving abuse to a different stage.

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 during which she stated she had grow to be the “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Although the essay by no means mentions Depp by title, his attorneys stated it not directly refers to allegations she made in opposition to him throughout their 2016 divorce. Heard is countersuing Depp, looking for $100 million in damages.

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

Hashtags like “AmberHeardIsAPsycho” or “AmberHeardIsALiar” have racked up billions of views on TikTok and Twitter. Even looking out content material that seems to be pro-Heard, just like the hashtag “IBelieveAmberHeard,” sometimes yields movies and posts maligning the actor. 

“I can’t imagine what this might be doing to someone who may eventually want to seek safety and support,” Glenn stated. “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.”

A spokesperson for TikTok declined to remark. TikTok’s community tips state that it does “not tolerate members of our community being shamed, bullied, or harassed.” The platform says it removes “expressions of abuse, including threats or degrading statements intended to mock, humiliate, embarrass, intimidate, or hurt an individual.”

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to remark.

Heard will take the stand once more on Monday after the courtroom’s transient break.

The consequence of survivors of home abuse seeing these posts may have what Glenn known as “a chilling effect.” 

For some who’ve survived home violence, watching the mockery play out on social media has reopened emotional wounds.

“For me, it takes me back to where I once was,” stated Twahna P. Harris, who serves as chief govt officer and govt director of The Butterfly Society. The advocacy group, based mostly in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, supplies sources to victims and survivors of home violence.

“And that’s what happens,” she stated. “You’re revictimized all over again. You’re not believable, apparently … it makes you mad, it makes you angry. Until you’ve lived it, you will never understand.”

Harris, who herself endured three years of home violence and has been an advocate for survivors for greater than 15 years, stated the social media response is very insulting to victims.”

“It’s a slap in the face to victims and survivors,” she stated. 

Memes at Heard’s expense have grow to be full-on TikTok tendencies.

Regardless of your ideas on it, home violence isn’t humorous.

-Carey, 25, who has been following the case on tiktok a

One audio clip of Heard describing an alleged incident of abuse has been lip synced by customers practically 5,000 instances. In the clip, Heard says, “I was walking out of the bedroom, he slapped me across the face. I turned to look at him, and I said, ‘Johnny, you hit me.’” 

In one in all these TikToks, a ginger tabby cat in a blond wig re-enacts Heard’s testimony. As the testimony performs, slightly plastic hand pretends to slap the cat throughout the face. The video, posted by person @heyitsgingerandpepper, was seen greater than 13.5 million instances, in response to Rolling Stone. It was later eliminated by TikTok, the person stated. She didn’t present additional remark. TikTok declined to touch upon the elimination of this video. 

Others have latched onto conspiracies, attempting to disprove Heard’s testimony by choosing aside her phrases, physique language and habits on the stand. On YouTube, creators have pivoted from their ordinary content material to creating content material in regards to the trial, racking in hundreds of thousands of views. 

“No matter how many times on Twitter and TikTok I’ve clicked ‘not interested’ in this kind of content, it’s still coming to the top of my page,” stated Carey, 25, who requested that NBC News establish her by solely her first title out of worry she could possibly be harassed or doxed by Depp’s followers.

Carey has adopted the authorized points between Depp and Heard since Depp introduced a libel case in opposition to The Sun newspaper within the U.Ok. in 2020. The paper had known as Depp a “wife-beater” in response to allegations Heard made. In November 2020, a choose dominated in The Sun’s favor.

While the social media vitriol was unhealthy then, it’s even worse now, she stated. 

“No matter what your thoughts are on the case, I don’t understand the desire to make a mockery of it,” she stated. ”Regardless of your ideas on it, home violence isn’t humorous.”

Experts worry actual world penalties 

As increasingly content material mocking Heard’s testimony floods social media, specialists worry it may negatively have an effect on victims of home abuse and doubtlessly sway them to remain silent. 

As it’s, about 70 % of home violence isn’t reported to the authorities, in response to authors of the 2020 e-book “Making Sense of a Global Pandemic: Relationship Violence and Working Together Towards a Violence Free Society.”

“I thought I was living in another world,” Glenn stated of seeing the social media content material across the case. “I have never seen anything like this.”

Family regulation litigator and TikToker Limor Mojdehiazad echoed Glenn’s issues, including that she fears that victims could possibly be internalizing the mass humiliation and shaming triggered by Heard’s accusations.

Mojdehiazad has been overlaying the case on TikTok because the trial develops. As somebody who works carefully with home violence survivors in her follow, Mojdehiazad stated she needed to assist her greater than 447,000 followers perceive the nuance of every flip within the defamation case. 

On Tuesday, she posted what she describes as a public service announcement for her followers, asking them to do not forget that whereas they could be having enjoyable with the content material they’re creating across the trial, “it’s not funny to re-enact audio of testimony of alleged DV [domestic violence].”

“I think there’s a lot of insensitivity and judgment around what domestic violence looks like … take away the fact that we’re talking about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard and whether they’re telling the truth or not,” Mojdehiazad stated. “The bigger picture is there are victims of domestic violence also seeing this content.”

Some already worry talking out about this subject. When contacted for this story, two home violence survivors declined to be recognized by NBC News or share particulars about their experiences, citing one concern: worry that they could possibly be harassed by Depp’s followers for talking out in opposition to him.

Mojdehiazad stated she hopes folks viewing the case will ultimately notice that the Depp-Heard trial proves the various challenges that home violence victims endure. 

Even two rich, privileged celebrities like Depp and Heard can grow to be victims of abuse — and a scenario like theirs can be tough to flee, Mojdehiazad stated.

“If everyone at this point stopped making fun of the testimony,” she stated, “I think we need that to kind of die down so we can learn these valuable lessons.”

If you or somebody you recognize is going through home violence, name the National Domestic Violence hotline for assist at (800) 799-SAFE (7233), or go to www.thehotline.org for extra. States usually have home violence hotlines as nicely.

If you or somebody you recognize has been sexually assaulted, name the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-4673. The hotline, run by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), can put you involved together with your native rape disaster heart. You also can entry RAINN’s on-line chat service at https://www.rainn.org/get-help.

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