Amber Heard faced a flood of hateful comments online during her defamation trial against ex-husband Johnny Depp. But this approach could also harm an entire young generation in addition to Heard: Not only the actress was left in the lurch.

Amber Heard found guilty in Johnny Depp trial The jury ordered her to pay her ex-husband $8.35 million. But while the defamation case between the two actors was being heard in a Virginia court, another trial was taking place online, with the verdict leaning heavily towards Depp as a “true victim.” For weeks, memes and reels calling Heard a “liar,” “psychopath,” and “manipulator” have flooded social media. They made fun of her hair, her outfit and her facial expressions and sometimes even wished her dead.

Amber Heard: Some users are afraid to take their side

Comments on the live streams of the trial downplayed Depp’s violent lyrics (“lol Johnny”) and acknowledged his allegations. In a series of texts, Depp said he wanted to “burn” Heard and that he would “fuck her burned corpse” to “make sure she’s dead”. On the other hand, the images of Heard’s injuries were labeled “Photoshop” and their statements were accompanied by puke emojis. The biting comments already have a silencing effect. Some users are already too scared to speak out against Depp because they don’t want “his horde” attacking them.

“I don’t think we just failed Amber Heard. I think we failed all women who have experienced gender-based violence,” Mandi Gray, a gender justice expert and researcher at the University of Calgary, told ” Vice News”. Farrah Khan, an advocate for gender justice, can also confirm this statement to “Vice News”: “You need a whole village. It’s not just about the person who causes damage, but also about the people around them who make it possible , support and encourage.”

Both have also pointed out that defamation lawsuits are very often used by abusers to further control and coerce survivors. Gray, who has researched the phenomenon, said such trials are a “way to publicly humiliate people, especially women, and gain control.” That’s partly because a lawsuit involves revealing a large part of your life: text messages between friends and family, emails and more, which are then investigated in court. “It’s a very invasive process,” Gray said, adding that by launching defamation lawsuits, perpetrators can also try to “turn the tide.” “This case is not the exception. It is the rule.”

For other women, especially black or poorer women, this would likely be even worse. Heard’s sexuality was weaponized during her argument with Depp: tabloids have portrayed her as promiscuous and accused her of cheating on Depp. And all because she has dated both men and women. But the “Aquaman” star is white and conventionally attractive. “So if we treat a white cis woman so badly, what do we say to the others?” asked Khan.

The Heard case also has the potential to shape young people’s understanding of sexual and domestic violence. The hashtag was only on TikTok

“It’s an issue we should take seriously because this is one of the biggest public misinformation campaigns we’ve seen about domestic violence,” Khan said. “This case shapes the image young people have of domestic violence.”

Those: “Vice News”