Why Amber Heard doesn’t want to be called a “victim” of domestic violence

When Amber Heard came forward earlier this year with allegations that she had been abused by Johnny Depp, she was met with skepticism and gossip about her relationship, like many women are. And she was called, like other women are, “a victim.” In a new essay in Porter magazine, Heard writes that she doesn’t like the term “victim” of abuse. A lot of people don’t like to use the word “victim” when it comes to abuse or sexual assault, but for Heard it wasn’t about being called a “survivor” instead — it was that she didn’t feel like she needed to be rescued.

She wrote in the essay, “I was raised to be independent and self-reliant. I was never given nor wanted the burden of dependency. I never felt like anyone would or could rescue me, so naturally I resented the label of ‘victim.'” Of course, it’s important to note that she’s lucky to be in a position of privilege that allows her to be totally self-reliant and donate her divorce settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. But, that privilege also means her allegations and subsequent divorce have been in the public eye from the beginning, with even more scrutiny than normal.

In addition to being a survivor of abuse, there were many people who just straight up assumed she was lying about her relationship with Depp and the alleged emotional and physical abuse. In her essay she wrote, “Let’s start with the truth — the cold, hard truth. When a woman comes forward to speak out about injustice or her suffering, instead of aid, respect and support, she will be met with hostility, skepticism and shame. Her motives will be questioned and her truth ignored.”

It’s pretty messed up that our culture doesn’t give women the benefit of the doubt when it comes to abuse, to the point where Heard would feel the need to stay far away from a divorce settlement just to prove that she wasn’t accusing Depp for his money. Sure, giving to charity is good and all, but it was meant as a blatant “fuck you” to Depp’s lawyers and every “anonymous source” who spoke to the media about “why” she was coming forward with the allegations. As if she needed a reason other than the fact that she was in an allegedly abusive relationship.

Even now, for some reason, Heard is the bad guy. TMZ reported on her essay by speculating that she’s breaking the confidentiality clause in her divorce agreement with Depp, which says she can’t talk about him in public. First, our culture shames the victim, and then we shut her down — who could blame her if she did want to be rescued?

Heard is definitely not a victim for writing the essay and continuing to talk about domestic abuse. If even one person in a similar situation hears her before she’s shut down and criticized, speaking out would be a success.