May 29, 2016

Why I’m not Judging Johnny Depp & Amber Heard.

We are not including any photos of the alleged abuse. It is too soon to report on the facts of this case, which are not yet established. Our best wishes to all concerned, and may the truth come to light, and may it be of some benefit to all.

If she did not, we would not have published this. Domestic abuse—and refraining from prejudgement—is something that touches upon too many of us, our love life and our families. It’s relevant—if responsibly discussed. I think we can judge—see what is—without prejudging guilt or innocence, which we know little about at this point.

Let’s please refrain from speculation on this. This is a moment for contemplation without conclusions or prejudgement, as the author does a wonderful job of, below. ~ ed.

Johnny Depp allegedly beat up his wife, Amber Heard.

I say allegedly because I don’t know what happened between them. No one besides the two of them truly knows.

Upon waking up this morning and hearing this story I had two reactions: First I thought, “no way, not Johnny Depp too. He can’t be one of those guys who beats on women.”

Then, I paused, not running away with my first reaction. Instead I chose to do my own research on the story. I chose not to have an opinion—to release my judgements. Because who the f*ck am I?

As I read, I explored what people were saying on this. That’s when I really got pulled in. The comments about this situation were more alarming to me than the actual event. With very little fact or evidence being presented, immediately people were taking one side or the other, and speaking out as judge, jury, and executioner.

I started to wonder if this need to jump in and judge others so harshly, when we don’t even have all the facts, is a socially conditioned behavior or just human nature.

I have to believe it’s social conditioning, and that it’s getting very out of hand.

People were taking his side and her side. People were condemning Heard, calling her a liar, narcissist, manipulator, and attention seeker. And these were other women saying this. Others condemned Depp, calling him a drug addict, unstable, and crazy. The phrase domestic violence kept being tossed around loosely.

I believe we have two separate issues here.

I understand the anger. The disappointment. The denial. But, here’s an idea—let’s stop Judging. I’m not saying violence should be overlooked as a human flaw, but let’s chill out until we hear the facts and the whole story. And even then, let’s chill out. Let’s remember we are all human, and if you think you aren’t capable of reaching a breaking point, think again. We are just as capable of the very things we judge others for doing. Unleashing our rage as women on one man who hasn’t even been proven guilty isn’t the way forward. Neither is getting our guard all up in arms to defend someone we idolize by slinging judgements at his accuser.

Here’s my problem with the whole event. We need to be mindful when choosing our words. Domestic violence is defined as:

A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

Part of me has an issue with slapping the term domestic violence on someone who appears to just be having a really hard time handling their emotional state at present. The question that arises in me is this: Take a person who is suffering so deeply from emotional instability and pain, and put them in a relationship with another unstable person. Said person lashes out inappropriately in anger at the other who may be fanning the flames due to their own suffering. Is this domestic violence, or rather, an emotional issue? Is every person, man or woman, who breaks down under their uncontrollable emotions a perpetrator of domestic violence?

I truly have to say no, I don’t believe they are.

No matter if he did it or not, or whether she lied or not, I’m choosing to view the two of them with compassion and empathy through this trying time. They’re both only human, and all signs point to an intense amount of suffering deep within both of them, which is often the case when people who are usually non-aggressive suddenly display uncharacteristic behaviors.

That’s what I see when I let go of my ego, and instead observe with my heart and a mind of clarity.

Now here’s my judgement on these two: I don’t have one.

It’s none of my business. What I see are two unstable adults joined together in consensual marriage. They are getting divorced. There’s anger, hurt, pain, and loss. Something occurred, and we don’t know what. But guess what? It’s not for us to judge.

Which brings me to my point, which is an often overlooked one.

Domestic violence is not a black and white issue. It’s a very real issue, but not so black and white. There’s a lot of gray area in between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ judgments we get so caught up in. Domestic violence is not only against women. We need to remember that when we are righteously standing on our soapboxes crying out. Not every man who reaches his breaking point, cracks, and oversteps the line in anger needs to be condemned as one who establishes a pattern of aggression and violence in order to control their partner. Just like not every woman who is a victim of domestic violence is 100% a victim. Oh, yes. I said it. I know that’s going to ruffle some feathers. But that’s okay, that’s what I do. Women beat men too, and men are less likely to report it.

Interestingly enough a government study found thatin committing acts of domestic violence, more women than men (25 percent versus 11 percent) were responsible. In fact, in the 71 percent of nonreciprocal partner violence instances, the instigator was the woman. This flies in the face of the long-held belief that female aggression in a relationship is most often predicated on self-defense.” 

Are you aware that:

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of (some form of) physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

This makes me think that perhaps instead of focusing on domestic violence per se, we instead start exploring the deeper root of the growing violence as a whole within our society. Because these statistics show me that women are not that far behind men when it comes to be perpetrators of violence towards their partners. In my mind it is just as inappropriate for women to be abusive and aggressive as it is for men. So before we gang up and take sides, let’s pause and mindfully consider facts.

As someone who’s been pushed to their breaking point by another human, I understand what it feels like to be emotionally unstable and ready to break, while the other emotionally unbalanced person pushes and pushes. Fireworks occurred, things got broken, and walls got hit. I’ve never violently laid hands on someone in my life, yet in this moment I speak of, I was in a rage and I wanted to punch him. Thank God I have a breathing practice and I was able to diffuse myself. I didn’t have to go to the extreme of violence. Having this experience gave me an understanding of the intense power of emotional instability, especially where anger is concerned. To me, it seems the growing emotional instability of our society is the problem, with domestic violence being the manifestation of the problem.

Which brings me to my next point: I’m a woman. I’m not rich. I’m self-supporting, so I’ve never found myself trapped in an abusive relationship where I didn’t have the means and the will to get out. When someone treats me like sh*t, I leave. And if they’re violent? You will not catch me, dead or alive, anywhere near that person again. So I wonder, at what point do we individually take our own power back and free ourselves? I’m not naive enough to believe that all it takes is self-love, I realize it’s a much bigger issue than that, but like Maria Phelps said:

“Self-esteem alone cannot combat domestic violence. A woman with high self-esteem can be affected by domestic violence, but I feel that the woman with better self-image will be more empowered to leave a relationship where there is abuse, and that is the important thing to focus on.”

Yes, if we choose to stay in abusive and unhealthy relationships, or we keep returning to them out of “love,” then we too are at fault in the chaos of our circumstances. And this screams of our low self-worth. If we are too unhealthy to love ourselves, to see that we deserve love and we are love, then perhaps we need to address that issue if we want to stop attracting other unstable people. Because guess what? We attract what we are.

So please, instead of judging a woman when she makes allegations against someone, even if it’s someone we know and love, we need to start exploring the deep rooted societal reasons why 21st century women continue to find themselves trapped in unhealthy relationships. Men as well. Some of us are so empowered, while others remain in the weakened state in which they have no self-respect or self-love, and they’re unable to break free from the bondage of being a victim.

We need to start addressing the underlying emotional disconnections and imbalances which are fueling the rises in violence across all aspects of life, instead of just putting a label on it and condemning those involved in whichever way suits us that day. Underneath every decision, choice, mistake, action, and reaction—bad or good—there is a person. A human. And when their choices are poor, it’s because they’re suffering.

Let’s stop blaming, labeling, and condemning and instead start loving, encouraging, and healing.



Author: Lindsay Carricarte

Editor: Erin Lawson

Image: Flickr/weln85114139  



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