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Domestic Abuse - Truth and Lies

View profile for Karen Johnson
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Domestic Abuse - Truth and Lies

As a family solicitor specialising in cases involving domestic abuse, the current trial taking place in America between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is something that interests me greatly.

It is not itself a family law case, as Johnny is suing Amber for $50 million for implying he abused her in an article published in 2018 and in response, Amber issued a counter claim for $100 million for allegedly orchestrating a smear campaign against her and describing his own claim as continuing his abuse and harassment of her. 

What is domestic abuse?

In England and Wales, domestic abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of abusive behaviour between two people who are personally connected to each other. 

Abusive behaviour includes: 

  • physical or sexual abuse
  • violent or threatening behaviour
  • controlling or coercive behaviour
  • economic abuse
  • psychological, emotional or other abuse

Domestic abuse misconceptions

It is particularly important to appreciate that there is no singular type of person who is domestically abusive or who is a victim of domestic abuse. 

Whilst it is correct that statistically, women are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse than men, statistics are only ever going to tell part of the story in circumstances where domestic abuse remains hugely under reported. 

We must not lose sight of the fact that men are often victims too and that domestic abuse is never ok regardless of gender or sexuality. 

Equally, it is extremely important to appreciate that just because we might like or look up to a person, whether because they are famous, or are always smiling, affable and well behaved in public, does not mean that they are not capable of domestic abuse. 

Abuse in the Amber and Johnny Depp trial 2022

Both Amber and Johnny have alleged that they have been abused by the other. 

Both strenuously deny the others allegations and seek to persuade the jury that the other is lying by seeking to discredit their accuser and poking holes in their story, all whilst painting themselves as the victim and the other the abuser. 

Domestic abuse by its nature is often something that takes place behind closed doors and without witnesses and so this, like many other cases, will require the jury to determine whose evidence they prefer. This is not likely to be an easy task particularly when both Amber and Johnny are accomplished actors who are paid to play a role believably. 

The case has garnered significant press attention, with some commentators clearly taking a view as to who is telling the truth or not and despite not having yet heard all of the evidence. Whilst the decision in the trial itself rests with the jury, the media coverage and court of popular opinion will likely have far wider ramifications. 

In an abusive relationship and in fear?

For those that are currently in an abusive relationship, have recently left one or who have been wrongly accused of being abusive, the case and its coverage may cause some concern: 

  • a fear of not being believed
  • negativity from friends or family 
  • a fear of reprisals and further abuse 

Whether by way of similar incidents as has happened before or of facing malicious allegations and repeated applications being made to the court. 

This is in addition to all of the usual issues that arise on the breakdown of a relationship such as where will everyone live and what arrangements should be put in place for children etc. 

How our domestic abuse solicitors can help you

For those in such a situation, I would urge them to seek legal advice from a specialist solicitor as soon as possible. We are able to advise in relation to steps that can be taken to protect you and any children of the family and also consider the best strategy to address all of the other issues. 

Do you need advice about domestic abuse?

If you, or someone you know would like some advice with regards to what we can do to help, I can be contacted on 01206 217305 or via email at karen.johnson@birkettlong.co.uk.

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