TW: Domestic Abuse, Violence
I don’t often write about current events on my blog. I’m not a journalist, and it’s my MO to write about things that are personal to me. Yes I’ve given my thoughts on things like rape culture, veganism, racism and gender stereotypes. I have been known to enjoy a healthy debate or a good rant. I’ve even written about my own experiences with domestic abuse here and here, both for my own blog and the fabulous feminist collective that is Zusterschap. This is a topic that has affected me, and that I feel very strongly about.
An allegation or a conviction of domestic abuse is NOT a cry for attention from the victim. It is someone who has been punched, kicked, slapped, emotionally or psychologically tormented by their abuser and somehow finding the strength to come forward. It isn’t an easy thing to admit you’ve been abused. People ask you all sorts of uncomfortable questions about your relationship, not out of kindness, but to try to catch you out. It’s a traumatising ordeal, and I honestly can’t even begin to imagine how much worse it must be to have this done in the public eye.
Since the allegations were made public, Johnny Depp’s friends have come out of the woodwork to vouch for his character. Everyone from former costars to ex wives. The thing is – no one knows what happens in a relationship except the people involved. No one. Not friends, not family, not fans trying to stick their two cents in. A person can seem the most affable,, charming, and talented human on the planet, but how they act with their friends and in public is in no way an indication of what goes on behind closed doors with their partner.
Here’s the kicker. Abusive partners aren’t the caricatures of wife-beaters we’d like them to be. It makes people uncomfortable that they can look, act, and sound exactly like everyone else on the outside. They walk amongst us, and sometimes it can be years or even decades before the facade slips. Or before someone has the strength to come forward. Someone doesn’t have to look the part of the baddie to be the baddie.
Victim blaming is never ok. If they’re a celebrity, if their partner is famous, it still isn’t ok. Their faces are familiar to us, almost as much as the people we know IRL. We see these people on our screens or in magazines, and we feel like we know them. We don’t.
Next time a news story comes out about someone making an allegation of abuse against a celebrity, as humans, we should remember how difficult that choice must have been for the victim to come forward. To tell their story, countless times, to the police and in court. To have to answer questions from journalists about their ordeal. To have their story picked apart by the media for the sake of a big headline. Also remember that there are women and men who suffer through the very same thing every single day, and to downplay the experiences of those in the public eye is also telling them that their abuse doesn’t matter. We are telling them that no one will believe them, just because their abuser is able to put on a face to the public that they are a good person.
We are telling them that they don’t matter.