Commentary on Depp-Heard case having negative impact on victims of abuse

Both Women's Aid and Men's Aid Ireland agree that media scrutiny and social media commentary on the trial has had a negative impact on victims
Commentary on Depp-Heard case having negative impact on victims of abuse

Media scrutiny and social media commentary on the US defamation trial involving Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is negatively impacting victims of domestic violence, Women's Aid has warned.

The national organisation working to aid women and children affected by domestic violence is reminding the public to be mindful of the language they use when discussing high-profile cases involving domestic abuse.

Men's Aid Ireland also urged caution but said it hoped the verdict of the trial could encourage male victims of abuse to come forward.

Chief executive of Women's Aid, Sarah Benson, offered advice for people navigating conversations around domestic abuse in the coming days.

“I think we all need to be very mindful that domestic abuse is incredibly prevalent,” she told Newstalk radio.

“One in four women in this country will experience it, and yes there will be a smaller proportion of men.

“I think we need to be mindful in all of our communications, across all our platforms, that there are survivors out there who pay attention and who may be feeling isolated.”

The verdict in Depp’s libel trial against his former wife Heard could meanwhile "lift the silence" for male victims of domestic violence in the country, Men's Aid Ireland said.

A jury in Virginia on Wednesday concluded that Heard defamed Depp when she described herself as a victim of sexual violence in an article in the Washington Post.

Men's Aid Ireland said it has received an increase in calls and texts over the past six weeks amid the trial.

Chief executive of the charity, Kathrina Bently, said the trial could be used as an opportunity for male victims to seek help.

“Johnny spoke about the taunting, the mockery, the slagging, the belittling,” she said.

“If there’s men out there and they’re watching the trial and they’re listening to it, we hope that also gives them the encouragement and the confidence to pick up phone for support and for them to know that there is support here in Ireland.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Women’s Aid (24-hour freephone helpline at 1800 341 900, email helpline@womensaid.ie) or Men’s Aid Ireland (confidential helpline at 01 554 3811, email hello@mensaid.ie) for support and information. 

Safe Ireland also outlines a number of local services and helplines at safeireland.ie/get-help/where-to-find-help/. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.

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