Amber Heard wrote a powerful essay on her experience as a survivor of domestic abuse in the latest issue of Porter Magazine. The new essay arrives just weeks after Heard shot a PSA on domestic abuse for Girl Gaze, which already has almost 250,000 views on YouTube.
In the personal essay, Heard writes “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.”
Focusing on the difficult decision to go public with her story, Heard writes “it takes real strength to come forward” and that “it isn’t easy to raise your voice, to stand up for yourself and your truth, and to do it ‘alone’.”
The actor opens up about her past without naming her abuser, though Heard did file for divorce from husband Johnny Depp in May this year, alleging that their marriage was being dissolved as a result of abuse at the hands of Depp.
Heard’s one troubling note in the essay is in her issue with the word ‘victim.’ She writes “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.'”
Domestic abuse survivors’ use of the word ‘victim’ can be an important way to remove self-blame from their identity. Advocate Dani Bostick has written on the topic of owning the term ‘victim’, as has writer Lynn Beisner, arguing that there is power in labeling oneself a victim, and in effect placing the blame on the attacker and not on the person attacked. Writing for RoleReboot.com, Besiner says “When the woman blamed her attacker, that is to say pressed charges against him, she created change. She made the world a little safer for herself and for other women.”
Heard’s issue of the word ‘victim’ aside, her essay and public persona as a wealthy, successful and respected actor will hopefully help to erase the stigma that domestic abuse is only applicable to one specific population.