By Anna B. Mercury
On the website, AmberOpenLetter.com, NXIVM prosecutor Moria Kim Penza and about 100 women and women’s organizations lent their support to Amber Heard in a letter.
They want an end to online harassment, mocking and intimidating women who report sexual and domestic abuse.
They speak out against how social media platforms humiliated Heard. They call for an end to “a monetized social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment.”
Too many people, especially men, found it entertaining.
These women, including Penza, want to end it.
As Elon Musk, who is a man, said of Twitter, “free speech doesn’t mean free reach.”
The signatories include gender justice organizations. They include domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy organizations. They include academics, lawyers like Penza, therapists, and “survivors.”
This group believes Heard is a victim and survivor of her former husband Johnny Depp’s abuse.
They point out that after the Depp-Heard defamation trial, people on social media condemned, mocked, and misunderstood the victim Heard.
What happened to an innocent victim like Heard is egregious and will prevent other victims from reporting domestic abuse. The social media mockers will silence women everywhere.
To inform readers from other planets who may not follow news on Earth, Depp sued his former wife Heard. He claimed a Washington Post op-ed she authored defamed him.
In short, he claimed he was a victim.
In 2022, a six-week trial in Virginia on Depp’s allegations became a media circus.
Heard and Depp testified in court as TV cameras filmed the proceedings and broadcast it live. It was entertainment, because Depp is so damn good on camera, and Heard is not bad.
And because they testified about their mutual hatred. They tried to outdo each other with embarrassing revelations. With graphic and sometimes dubious allegations of sexual and domestic abuse, they entertained Earthlings everywhere.
One of the most mocked issues was about shit – canine or human.
She said it wasn’t her, but their Yorkshire Poo named Boo who shit the bed.
She tried to turn shit into Shinola and arouse the ire of animal lovers.
She said Boo got into Johnny’s stash of marijuana.
“[Boo] had eaten Johnny’s weed when she was a puppy and had bowel control issues for her entire life,” she said.
Depp said it wasn’t their Yorkie Poo based on the quantity.
There were photos.
Photos of faeces left in Johnny Depp’s bed which Amber Heard blamed on a Yorkshire dog. The story inspired reactions and memes across social media, mocking Heard with Twitter hashtags like #MePoo and #AmberTurd. People could hardly wipe the smile of their faeces.
In June 2022, a Fairfax County, Virginia, jury returned a verdict supporting Depp’s claim of defamation.
In any event, the Heard sorority wants men like Depp stopped.
They want an end to “sex-based harassment” victims like Heard facing “retaliation through the misuse of defamation lawsuits.”
So let us get to the letter, Moira Penza and others signed:
Open Letter in Support of Amber Heard
Five months ago, the verdict in the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard deeply concerned many professionals in the fields of intimate partner and sexual violence.
As many, including A.O. Scott for The New York Times have noted, the vilification of Ms. Heard and ongoing online harassment of her and those who have voiced support for her have been unprecedented in both vitriol and scale.
Much of this harassment was fueled by disinformation, misogyny, biphobia, and a monetized social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment. The same disinformation and victim-blaming tropes are now being used against others who have alleged abuse.
In our opinion, the Depp v. Heard verdict and continued discourse around it indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of intimate partner and sexual violence and how survivors respond to it. The damaging consequences of the spread of this misinformation are incalculable. We have grave concerns about the rising misuse of defamation suits to threaten and silence survivors.
We condemn the public shaming of Amber Heard and join in support of her. We support the ability of all to report intimate partner and sexual violence free of harassment and intimidation.
You can read the long list of women and women’s groups that signed the Heard letter below.
But first, let us hear from a man who, like all men, is an oppressor of all women, including Amber Heard. He is Aristotle’s Sausage.
The Amber Heard support letter states, “We support the ability of all to report intimate partner and sexual violence.”
That part is great. I agree. It’s some of the preceding statements that are troubling:
“We condemn the public shaming of Amber Heard”…
This sounds like advocating for restricting free speech. What exactly is “public shaming”, and who decides?
“We have grave concerns about the rising misuse of defamation suits to threaten and silence survivors…”
This seems like advocating for restricting due process.
What, this class of people termed survivors can’t be sued for defamation? That seems like a violation of the Equal Protection clause. And this statement, as a whole, seems like a lack of faith in the judicial system.
Amber Heard lost, therefore the system is broken. That’s the line Keith Raniere’s defenders take.
Johnny Depp sued Heard for defamation and (largely) won. A jury agreed she had defamed him. There is a high bar for proving defamation in US courts, and Heard crossed it. So said the jury.
This was not some frivolous lawsuit. Depp had a solid case, and he won. Mostly.
As for public ridicule, c’mon, this was a high profile case involving two celebrities. Who were at each other’s throats. In a very public way. Airing their dirty laundry in the press, no less.
Heard had published nasty details of their relationship in a newspaper for Chrissake! Can’t complain then when it blows up online.
As for “disinformation”, wasn’t Heard guilty of that very thing when she published lies about Depp in the newspaper? Which was the very basis of the lawsuit.
Which Depp won.
Moira Penza should not have signed this letter.
The organizations that support Amber Heard are
Aidileys • Associazione Iroko Onlus • Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) • CCChat Magazine • Custody Peace • Cyber Civil Rights Initiative • Center for Safety and Change • Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues Crumiller • The Feminist Litigation Firm • Democratic Activists for Women Now • Engendered Collective • EnoughIsEnough Voter Project • Equal Rights Advocates • Equality Now • Esperanza United (formerly Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network) • Every Voice Coalition • Fearless! Hudson Valley, Inc. • Female Filmaker Fuse • Feminist Majority Foundation • Futures Without Violence • C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, Victims’ Rights Law Firm • Hope’s Door • Know Your IX • LIFT: Living in Freedom Together, Worcester • McAllister Olivarius • Military Rape Crisis Center • Ms. Magazine •The National Organization for Women • The National Organization for Women: Virginia Chapter • National Women’s Law Center • Öfgar • Osez le Féminisme • Refuge: for Women & Children. Against Domestic Violence. • Réseau International des Mères en Lutte • Sakhi for South Asian Women • Sanctuary for Families • Sexual Violence Prevention Association • The Asian Feminist • The Mary Sue • Movement of Mothers • The Pixel Project • The Safe Center LI • UltraViolet • Victim Focus • Violence Free Minnesota • WeSpoke • Women’s March Action • Women’s March Foundation • Women’s Equal Justice Project •
Renée B. Adams,
Professor, University of Oxford
Dr. Esohe Aghatise,
Executive Director, Associazione Iroko Onlus
Cheryl A. Alexander,
L.I.C.S.W., RMT Trauma Informed Psychotherapist in Private Practice
British Women’s Rights Campaigner, Women United Organisation
Independent Scholar, Author, “Complaint!”
PgCert, Founder, End Coercive Control USA
Dr. Adrienne Barnett,
Reader in Law, Brunel Law School, Brunel University London
Dr. Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur,
Professor of Sociology, Rhode Island College
Professor of Psychology, Westminster College
Dr. Kate Balestrieri,
Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, Certified Sex Therapist & Founder of Modern Intimacy
Dr. Nicole Bedera,
Founder and CEO, LIFT Living in Freedom Together
CEO/Founder Military Rape Crisis Center
Founder of Aidileys – Rights, Family Court Information Services
Survivor and Activist
Antoinette Bonsignore, J.D.,
Legal and Prosecutorial Analyst, Case Systems Training Review Program, Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission
Associate Professor in Public Policy and Political Science (LSE) and admitted Solicitor, Supreme Court NSW, Australia
Women’s Rights Activist
Dr. Stephanie Ann Brandt MD,
Faculty and Chairman, Ethics Committee, New York Psychoanalytic Institute New York, NY, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, Experienced Forensic Evaluation and Testimony in Family, Supreme and Federal ( EDNY + SDNY ) Child focused Litigation
Susan J. Brison,
Eunice and Julian Cohen Professor for the Study of Ethics and Human Values, Dartmouth College
Professor Ann Bartow,
University of New Hampshire School of Law.
Laura S Brown, Ph.D.
ABPP, psychologist in private practice, past President, APA Division of Trauma Psychology and Society for The Psychology of Women
Dr. Kari Brozowski
Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University
Professor from Practice and Co-Director, Georgetown University Domestic Violence Clinic (title for identification purposes only)
Nancy Chi Cantalupo,
Associate Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School (title and institution provided for identification purposes only)
The Voices and Faces Project
Lauren B. Cattaneo,
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, George Mason University
Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law
Clinical Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
Associate Professor Queens College, CUNY
Andrew Thomas Cicchetti,
Dr Esma Esen Çiftçi,
Assistant Professor in Social and Organisational Psychology at Anadolu University. Work on Sexism and Social Relationships
Dr. Christine Marie Cocchiola,
DSW, LCSW Coercive Control Advocate, Educator, Researcher & Survivor
Ph.D. New Mexico licensed psychologist
Dr. Elizabeth Dalgarno,
SHERA Research Group
Activist Educator, Feminist, Gender Equity Educator
Michele Landis Dauber,
Frederick I. Richman Professor of Law, Stanford Law School (title and institution for identification purposes only)
Margaret B. Drew,
Associate Professor of Law, UMass Law School
Prof. Dr. Jennifer Drobac
Danielle Pelfrey Duryea
Boston University School of Law (institution for identification purposes only)
Maria João Faustino,
PhD Candidate, University of Auckland
Attorney and Domestic Violence Advocate
Heidi Eilers, Ph.D.,
BCBA-D, CCTP, Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral, Certified Clinical Trauma Professional
Aliaa Magda Elmahdy,
Egyptian internet activist and women’s rights advocate
Agnes Williams Sesquicentennial Professor of Gender, Violence, and Law, Georgetown Law University Center
President/Founder of Student Activists Against Sexual Assault at Temple University
Heidi Li Feldman,
Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Professor of Psychology, Bucknell University
Professor Michael Flood
Queensland University of Technology
Communication Coordinator for Upside Sex Trafficking Initiative, Minneapolis, Minnesota
editor of “Yes Means Yes” and “Believe Me”
Social Worker, Feminist Advocate
Professor Aisha K. Gill, Ph.D.
CBE | Professor of Criminology
Professor Leigh Gilmore,
Ohio State University, Author, “The #MeToo Effect: What Happens When We Believe Women”
Ph.D., Professor, Boston College
Marjorie Cook Professor of Law and Co-Director, Clinical Law Program
Cynthia A. Graham,
PhD, C. Psychol, Professor of Sexual and Reproductive Health
LICSW PTSD Clinician & Trainer
Research Assistant, Violence Against Women and Children team, Department of Social Work, The University of Melbourne
Founder CCChat Magazine
Advocate, Survivor, Film Subject for HBO Documentary Private Violence
Founder and Executive Director Women’s March Action and Women’s March Foundation
Founder, Survivors Righting Wrongs
Global Executive Director, Equality Now
Associate Professor, England UK
Judith L. Herman, M.D.,
Professor of Psychiatry (Part Time), Harvard Medical School
Ph.D Assistant Professor of Psychology & Women’s & Gender Studies, University of Nebraska
CarlLa Horton, M.P.A.,
Executive Director, Hope’s Door
Emily Mia Hughes-Smith,
MBACP. BSc(hons) dip. Sup
Co-Founder, Americas Conference to End Coercive Control (ACECC)
Holly Jacobs, PhD
Founder, Board Member, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative
President, East Area Progressive Democrats
International Human Rights Jurist and Consultant, human-writes.org
Dr. Emma Katz, Ph.D.,
Senior Lecturer, Liverpool Hope University, UK
Senior Research Fellow, Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, UK
Dr. Margaret Kertesz,
Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne
CEO Possibility Seeds
Editor-in-Chief, DomesticShelters.org, Co-Host, Toxic the Podcast
Judge Judy Harris Kluger,
Executive Director, Sanctuary for Families
Survivor, Founding member of Movement of Mothers
Dean Laurie Kohn,
George Washington Law School
Executive Director, Fearless! Hudson Valley, Inc.
Dr. Ingeborg Kraus,
Clinical Psychologist, Psychotraumatologist
Writer & Survivor-Victim Advocate
Activist & British Women’s Rights Campaigner.
Julie S. Lalonde
Canadian Woman’s Rights Advocate
Dr Rhiannon Lane,
Research Fellow in Sociology, Cardiff University
Clinical Assistant Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
Geraldine Lee-Treweek ,
Professor of Social Justice at Birmingham City University, UK, specialist in Abuse Studies and Psychotherapist.
Dorchen A. Leidholdt, Esq.,
Director, Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services at Sanctuary for Families
Evan M. Frankel Clinical Professor Emeritus in Environmental Law, Columbia University School of Law
Dr. Laura E. Ludtke,
Persons Against Non-State Torture, co-author “Women Unsilenced Our Refusal To Let Torturer-Traffickers Win”
Catharine A. MacKinnon,
Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at Michigan Law, and the long-term James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School (all titles for identification purposes only)
Executive Director, Safe and Together Institute
Director, Women’s Equal Justice Project
Omny Miranda Martone,
Founder & CEO of Sexual Violence Prevention Association
Feminist Activist, Journalist, Founder of Nemolchi.uz (Do Not Be Silent)
Managing Partner, McAllister Olivarius
National Family Violence Law Center, Professor of Clinical Law, George Washington University Law School
Director of Development, Per Scholas
Sun Cities West Valley NOW
Acting Director, Gender Justice Clinic, Washington College of Law (for identification purposes only)
Associate Professor, SMU Dedman School of Law, Director, Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women
Laura Beth Nielsen, JD, Ph.D.,
Professor & Chair, Department of Sociology, Northwestern University, Research Professor, American Bar Foundation, President, Law and Society Association, Author, “License to Harass: Law, Hierarchy, and Offensive Public Speech” (titles for identification purposes only)
Chair of the Executive Committee, McAllister Olivarius
Emer O’Toole, Ph.D.,
Professor, Concordia University
Survivor Advocate, Artist & Feminist Filmmaker
#TheCourtSaid Founder, Survivor Family Network Director
Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor, Stanford University
Director of Civil Rights Clinic, Boston College Law School (title for identification purposes only)
Attorney, Former federal prosecutor, Eastern District of New York; led NXIVM investigation and trial
Jaime Cabeza Pereiro,
Professor of Labor and Social Security Law, University of Vigo
PhD candidate & Activist Specialising in Fighting Sexual Harassment in Academia
Professor of Sociology, Newcastle University
Writer, Producer, Director & Founder of Female Filmakers Fuse
Nicole Prause, Ph.D.,
Senior Statistician, University of California, Los Angeles (title for identification purposes only)
Dr. Charlotte Proudman,
Barrister and Academic
Dr Shivaun Quinlivan
Associate Professor, University of Galway
Professor Tracey Raney,
Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, Canada
Anne K. Ream,
Activist and Founder of The Voices and Faces Project
BSc, MSc, MBPsS, Criminal Behavioural Analyst
Australian human rights lawyer and barrister at Doughty St Chambers, U.K. counsel to Amber Heard, author of How Many More Women?
Lecturer on Law, Director, Gender Violence Program, Harvard Law School
Lily Kay Ross, MDiv, Ph.D.
Feminism and Ethics Research Fellow, Psymposia
MD, PhD, Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist. Former Director of Training in Forensic Child/Adolescent Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
David A. Santacroce,
Clinical Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
Dr. Lex Santiago,
Academic & Scholar of Psychedelic (sociomedical humanities) Science trained in Global Health, Political Geography, Philosophy, Ethics & Theology. Sexual harassment & IPV Victim-Survivor Advocate; Focusing on LGBTQ men & women of Asian, Pacific Islander & Filipinx descent.
co-author, “Women Unsilenced Our Refusal To Let Torturer-Traffickers Win,” Co-Founder Persons Against Non-State Torture.
Ph.D. Visiting Professor, Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, LMU Special Advisor to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court
Ph.D, Ph.D in Sexualised Violence Prevention (McMaster University), Current Postdoctoral Fellowship in Sexualised Violence Prevention (McGill University)
Dr. John Simister,
Ph.D., Domestic Violence and Economics Researcher, Senior Lecturer, Business School Manchester Metropolitan University
Founder Director of Media Watch: For Improving image of Women in Media
National Expert on Violence Against Women, Former Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)
Rachel Louise Snyder,
Professor, American University, Author, “No Visible Bruises”
Evan Stark, Ph.D., MSW,
Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University
Leslie Morgan Steiner,
Advocate, Author, “Crazy Love”
Journalist and Anti-Rape Activist
Ruth Silver Taube,
Adjunct Professor of Law, Santa Clara University, Legal Services Co-Chair, South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking, Delegate, Santa Clara County’s Human Trafficking Commission (all titles for identification purposes only)
Dr. Jessica Taylor,
Chartered Psychologist, CEO of Victim Focus
Survivor + Advocate
Associate Professor of Politics, Scripps College
DEI (Diversity & Inclusion) Manager
Robin West, J.D.,
Professor of Law, Georgetown Law School
Merle Weiner, Philip H. Knight Professor of Law, University of Oregon (title for identification purposes only)
Founder Gender Fair
Christina L. Winters,
Ph.D. Psychologist & Researcher, Tilburg Law School
Press and Marketing Director, McAllister Olivarius
Actor and author
Sophia Yen, M.D.,
Adolescent Medicine Specialist, CEO/Founder of Pandia Health