By Anitra, loveisrespect youth organizer
You probably heard the recent news about actor Johnny Depp allegedly abusing his wife Amber Heard. Although Heard’s case against Depp was strong enough for her to secure a restraining order, people still came to his rescue and accused her of making false allegations.
It wasn’t surprising to see the usual pattern of victim blaming and shaming that usually occurs with domestic violence. People expressed disbelief and came to Depp’s defense to say, “I don’t believe he is capable of doing something like that.” There was shock: “He’s just not that type of person.” And people shamed Heard by calling her names, trying to discredit her and asking, “Why didn’t she come forward sooner?”
That last question is pretty commonly asked of domestic violence survivors: “Why didn’t they speak up sooner?”, “Why didn’t they just leave?”, “Why didn’t they tell anyone?” After being a peer advocate for loveisrespect, speaking with dating abuse survivors and experiencing abuse myself, I can provide an answer to those questions: shame. Shame (among other factors) often makes victims feel like they are trapped, like they are silenced, like there is no way out. Shame is what keeps many victims from coming forward.