More than 130 signatories including the writer Gloria Steinem and notable women’s rights organizations have published an open letter in support of the actor Amber Heard, who lost a defamation suit against Johnny Depp, her former husband, in June this year.
In the letter, first shared with NBC News, feminist groups including the National Organization for Women and Women’s March expressed support for Heard and condemned harassment the Aquaman star has faced since the trial. Groups that address sexual assault awareness and domestic violence also signed the letter.
“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 letter said.
“The same disinformation and victim-blaming tropes are now being used against others who have alleged abuse.”
Heard has faced an onslaught of abuse and mockery, particularly on social media, where fans of Depp accused her of lying about being a domestic violence survivor during her relationship with Depp. The couple divorced in 2017.
The defamation suit was filed by Depp in reference to a Washington Post column in which Heard wrote that she was a “public figure representing domestic abuse”.
Heard did not mention Depp’s name, but Depp’s attorneys said the article referenced accusations made after their divorce.
After a seven-week trial, Depp was awarded $15m in damages by a jury in Virginia, later reduced to $10.35m.
Heard addressed the ruling shortly after the trial. In a statement, she said she was “disappointed with what this verdict means for other women.
“It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.”
Attorneys for Heard have appealed.
Depp has appealed against the $2m the jury awarded Heard, after a Depp attorney called Heard’s abuse allegations a “hoax”.