Women who support Amber Heard in her trial against Johnny Depp say they have received online hate.
After tweeting “#IStandWithAmberHeard,” the women say they’ve gotten threatening messages.
They told Insider they choose to defend Heard because they want to support women more generally.
Katie Diaz has been an Amber Heard supporter since 2016 when the actor filed for divorce from her now ex-husband, Johnny Depp. On May 4, when Heard took the stand in the couple’s ongoing defamation trial, Diaz voiced her support for Heard on Twitter using the hashtag #IStandWithAmberHeard.
Depp is suing Heard for defamation following a 2018 essay she wrote that said she was a victim of intimate partner violence. Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim and both parties have made allegations of physical abuse against one another, each denying they were the abuser in the relationship.
On social media, Depp fans appear to significantly outnumber Heard supporters. On TikTok, the hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp has 12 billion views, while #JusticeforAmberHeard has 44 million. Heard has been largely vilified on social media, with many Depp supporters ridiculing her and her her legal team her.
The polarizing nature of the trial has extended beyond people sharing their opinions and into personal threats to the safety of some users. Eight Heard supporters told Insider they have collectively received hundreds of hateful comments because they voiced their support for Heard publicly. Still, they remain committed to speaking out.
Some women say they are facing misogynistic comments and threats online because they publicly support Heard
Diaz told Insider that throughout the duration of the trial, she has received threatening direct messages and tweets from people who appear to support Depp. “I think that there’s some people that just get off on sending hate or getting a reaction from someone,” she said, adding that she finds them “very disturbing.”
Diaz told Insider she feels tweets directed towards Heard supporters have been an “attack on women” because many of them include sexist overtones.
In direct messages sent to Diaz and other women, which were seen by Insider, people referred to Heard supporters using misogynistic expletives and several comments contained threats of sexual or physical violence.
Jennifer, a Heard supporter who did not want to reveal her last name for privacy reasons, told Insider she thinks the misogynistic comments are largely from “men’s rights activists” who are “piggy-backing off of this trial and the way it’s being perceived by social media.”
Much of the online discourse surrounding the Depp v Heard trial is regarding the claims of abuse made by both parties. As Insider previously reported, some support for Depp appears linked to the narrative of “men’s rights activism” — a movement that operates on a belief that men are losing power and face discrimination in society — many of whom criticized the #MeToo movement and suggested that Depp is the true victim, not Heard.
Diaz said some have speculated that Heard supporters don’t believe that men can be victims of intimate partner violence, which she says is untrue.
Diaz told Insider, “None of us have said that men can’t be victims.” However, she added that she believes “it’s still vastly men who are the abusers.”
Statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic violence — which do not specify the gender of the abuser — show that one in four women have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime, while one in nine men have been victims. However, these figures are disputed as they rely on self-reporting, and some researchers believe that social stigma prevents some male victims from acknowledging or disclosing their abuse.
The online comments have had an emotional toll on these women, who have taken steps to shield themselves from online hate
After receiving several threatening messages on Twitter, Jennifer told Insider she deleted every photo of herself from her account as she was worried people might seek out her personal information and use it to act “out of anger” towards her. She added, “I stopped looking at the comments because they were very triggering.”
Isa Ford, a 20-year-old Heard supporter based in France, told Insider that Depp fans have been mass-reporting her account for violating Twitter’s guidelines.
In an email from Twitter that was seen by Insider, Ford was told her account was temporarily locked for “hateful conduct” violations, even though she believes her tweets about the trial have not been harmful. Twitter did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for clarification on which of Ford’s tweets were deemed to have violated guidelines.
Ford told Insider she’s received messages telling her to “get off social media,” and even encouraging her to harm herself. “It’s incredibly difficult” to receive such messages, she told Insider.
Ivana Escalara told Insider that since the beginning of the trial, she has blocked 13,000 Twitter users who messaged or tweeted negative remarks at her. “It’s very difficult to express my opinion without getting attacked, which is why a lot of people aren’t vocal in their support for Amber and those that are have their replies turned off or limited,” she said.
The women said they will continue to support Heard online, believing they are also standing up for themselves and for women in general
Of the eight women Insider spoke to, three said they feel a close personal connection to this trial, as they have experienced intimate partner violence themselves.
Three of them also said they were worried that because Heard and her supporters have been ridiculed online, women survivors of domestic abuse might feel discouraged from speaking out.
Sara, an 18-year-old Heard supporter, told Insider that she believes survivors of intimate partner violence are “watching how people are reacting to this trial, and they are likely being impacted by the narratives that are being pushed around.”
“It’s way bigger than just Johnny Depp and Amber Heard,” she added.
Sara said that she will continue to point out the negative repercussions the trial might have for women, one being a “double standard” that she believes has caused Heard to face so much more online mockery than Depp.
“All Amber’s moves on the stand are being dissected, and the victim-blaming going on right now means that if she cries, she’s acting, and if she doesn’t cry, then she wasn’t abused,” she told Insider.
She added, “While Amber’s actions are being dissected, Johnny Depp is literally laughing in court, and that’s just crazy. The double standards are crazy.”
Representatives for Heard declined to comment. Depp did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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