“I can’t promise I won’t get physical again, I get so mad I lose it.” If you read this statement in isolation you will probably think these are a man’s words. However, these words are reportedly part of an audio confession by American actor Amber Heard. She allegedly said this to her ex-husband Johnny Depp, as per a report in the Daily Mail.  A truth we often fail to acknowledge is that men across the globe also face physical and emotional abuse in intimate relationships, and male survivors of such violence always find it very hard to prove their victimization.

Key Takeaways

  • In an audio confession, Amber Heard admits ‘hitting’ ex-husband Johnny Depp.
  • Men also face physical and emotional abuse in intimate relationships, and male survivors always find it very hard to prove their victimization.
  • Family or society isn’t sympathetic to men who admit getting physically abused and men who dare speak out about their woes are considered ‘unmanly’. 

Yes, since the audio leak #JusticeForJohnnyDepp is trending on Twitter and fans have expressed their support for the Pirates Of The Caribbean actor. But can we imagine the trauma of the public shame and humiliation that Depp lived with if the reality is what the audio claims it to be?

A truth we often fail to acknowledge is men across the globe also face physical and emotional abuse in intimate relationships, and male survivors of such violence always find it very hard to prove their victimization.

Amber Heard had filed for divorce from Depp in May 2016 citing “irreconcilable differences” and accusing him of physical abuse, less than two years after their marriage. She also got a restraining order on him as she alleged him to be verbally and physically abusive throughout their relationship. Since then Depp, among many other things, has lost his iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Also Read: Male Domestic Abuse Victims: The Silence And The Shame

Heard had subsequently written a column for The Washington Post in which she talked about how she faced career setbacks as a result of speaking up about domestic violence, though she never mentioned Depp’s name in the article. She also spoke about how she came face to face with male privilege in our society. In March 2019, Depp filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard over the aforementioned op-ed. Yes, male privilege is indeed a reality, men access it all the time without even realizing it. As much as men need to acknowledge this privilege and stop abusing it, it is high time that we as a society stop and introspect who do men reach out for help if and when they need it?

The thing about spousal violence is it can happen to anyone. And often what goes behind closed doors is open to multiple interpretations, and we choose to believe what suits us. We have all had an experience with that couple who shouts too much whether it is a neighbour or the people who occupied the next hotel room. We write them off and move on but we need to realize violence against another living being is wrong irrespective of the gender of the perpetrator. Violence in intimate relationships happens because of the tussle for power and control. We become a perpetrator when we suspend our judgement and abuse power. So, it is not just bad for the person who is facing it, but the one who is inflicting it as well.

As much as men need to acknowledge this privilege and stop abusing it, it is high time that we as a society stop and introspect who do men reach out to for help if and when they need it?

It is not easy for either gender to walk out from an abusive relationship. In India, Domestic violence against men is not recognized as a crime by the law or by society. We assume men cannot be victims of spousal violence, because they are the stronger. If you are a man beaten up by your wife, you will be mercilessly ridiculed. Family or society isn’t sympathetic to men who admit getting harassed and men who dare speak out about their woes are considered ‘unmanly’ because they are the protectors of the family. So, what do they do?

Also Read: The Curious Case of Absent Male Child Abuse

Nothing can change unless we make a conscious effort to change the prevailing societal norms. The beginning has to happen at home. Before we judge anyone for their acts, we need to remind ourselves that a coin always has two sides, we need to turn it around and listen to the other side of the story as well before we make up our mind.

Picture Credit: Hindustan Times

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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