In the ever so public defamation trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, there were no shortage of armchair critics on social media who claim to know which one was lying, and which one wasn’t, to the extent that each party in the case had their own legion of followers who needed no convincing. But social media tends to confirm our biases, whichever way we wish to perceive the world, so that we will only gravitate towards people and things that sit comfortably with our beliefs. So other people’s lives, shrouded in the mist of our ignorance, are seldom easy to comprehend or to appreciate because, inevitably, there are always two sides to a story.
When I left my marriage some time ago, I blamed my ex-husband for most things that happened to me. I was the innocent party, and nothing could change that perception, especially when, initially, starting again proved difficult for me. Then I settled into my new life, my confidence grew, and I started to take a hard look at the long marriage I had left behind, discovering something very interesting in the process: that in any relationship, it takes two to do everything!
It doesn’t matter the level of guilt: it could be 25%-75% in each favour, but BOTH parties will carry some responsibility for what happens in the end, especially where there are cnnflicting statements. When this truth dawned, I slowly began to see ways in which I caused some anxiety in my ex, and vice-versa, that gradually led to the breakdown of our relationship.
In summary, Johnny Depp brought a defamation case against his ex-wife for writing an opinion piece in The Washington Post in 2018 which mentioned Heard’s ‘surviving violence’ in a toxic marriage. As Depp was implied in this action, and he felt his reputation was at stake, he sued for $50 million dollars. At the end of the trial, the jurors found in his favour, and he won. Yet was everything so clearcut between the couple?
The breakdown of their relationship would have started in the same way. One person perhaps began the process with some remark or action, which caused a reaction from the other party, gradually leading to some form of resentment, anger, retaliation, and blame. Gradually the lines become blurred as to who is responsible for the deteriorating circumstances, even where violence is involved, as each accuses the other of unacceptable behaviour – a situation which unfolded to the public as their trial ensued.
From what was said in court by both parties, we can only assume who might be more genuine and sincere, and who might be the true villain. But as onlookers and bystanders, we can never be sure because we were not behind closed doors with them when it was all happening. Moreover, we tend to judge others from a cultural, gender and racial perspective. Anyone matching up those aspects that reflect our experience and values will get a far more empathetic perception than one who is different.
So, whose side should we take, after hearing everything that Amber Heard and Johnny Depp had to say about each other? The safest bet is neither side, because what we perceive about other people, when we lack on-the-spot evidence, reflects our own personal reality and beliefs, not theirs! Just wish them well, and hope they can eventually heal from whatever they experienced.