+
johhny depp amber heard verdict

No amount of fame or fortune can forgive abuse.

Well, ladies and gentlemen … court is no longer in session. The Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial is over. The gavel has officially been struck.

The verdict fell largely in favor of Depp, who was technically awarded a total of $15 million (the total amount was lowered based on state lawsuit limits) after the jury voted "yes" to all three of his defamation claims against Heard, which primarily focused on her 2018 Washington Post op-ed alluding to being the victim of domestic violence.

The embattled star, who was not present in court during the final ruling, released a statement saying “I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation.”

Meanwhile, Amber Heard, who was awarded a comparatively small $2 million for one of her three defamation claims, lamented that the verdict “sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.”

The virality of this trial has certainly brought out a lot of toxic behavior online. The countless hot takes and tawdry video reenactments paint a concerning picture of our culture. Monica Lewinsky recently described the trial as a “celebrity circus” in a Vanity Fair op-ed, with the general public being the “guilty” party.

And yet—as with any widespread cultural phenomenon—there have also been positive, socially impactful conversations taking place across social media. Peering past the dizzying, disheartening effects of tabloid overload, our collective understanding of toxic relationships has adapted to be more nuanced and empathetic.


For one thing, it could help empower men to speak out as victims of domestic abuse.

During the trial, a video was played in the courtroom where Heard said, “Tell people it was a fair fight and see what the jury and judge think. Tell the world, Johnny. Tell them, ‘I, Johnny Depp, a man, I’m a victim, too, of domestic violence, and it was a fair fight,’ and see if people believe or side with you.”

Screenshot taken from a live video of the trial.

YouTube

Regardless of who’s right or wrong in this case specifically, that audio recording alludes to the very real obstacles many male victims of domestic abuse face. According to Psychology Today, even asking for help often elicits “gender-stereotyped treatment” which leads to “denial, fear, shame, embarrassment, and stigmatization.” So many don’t report abuse for fear of humiliation.

When an arguably powerful man like Depp takes the stand and tells the world that yes, he is a domestic violence survivor, it can not only encourage other men to share their story, it can help broaden our perspective around what abuse actually looks like. It's definitely not one-size-fits-all.

There’s also the very vital roles that mental health and substance abuse play in a relationship.

Early on, Amber Heard was diagnosed by clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Shannon Curry with borderline personality disorder (BPD). As with any mental condition, those with BPD can experience extreme challenges in relationships without proper treatment and support. As Healthline states, those with BPD may be affectionate in one moment and suddenly switch emotions without notice. But again, that doesn’t make romantic relationships impossible, nor does it make those with BPD villains. The trial has made BPD an unsavory buzzword, but with more awareness hopefully comes more empathy.

Both Heard and Depp had their fair share of addictions. This can be a particularly dangerous catalyst for violence. Addiction Center reports that 80% of domestic violence crimes are related to drugs and the risk increases when both parties abuse a substance. I think most of us understand that domestic violence and substance abuse are closely linked on an intuitive level.

And then, there’s perhaps the most potentially toxic relationship of all, which the trial illuminated perfectly—that between social media and the public.

The internet is a valuable resource for spreading awareness, having conversations and peer educating ourselves. But without discernment, that resource quickly becomes a black hole threatening to suck away all our compassion into the void. If ever there was a doubt in our mind about just how brazen humanity can be at times, this trial has provided hearty proof. The internet isn’t going anywhere. It’s up to us to use it wisely.

Abuse of all kinds should be taken seriously. No amount of fame or fortune can withstand its damage long-term. The trial may be over, but because of it, we will probably be rethinking our views on abuse for a long time to come. And that, in the very least, is a win for humanity.

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

Dyslexic plumber gets a life-changing boost after his friend built an app that texts for him

It uses AI to edit his work emails into "polite, professional-sounding British English."

via Pixabay

An artist's depiction of artificial intelligence.

There is a lot of mistrust surrounding the implementation of artificial intelligence these days and some of it is justified. There's reason to worry that deep-fake technology will begin to seriously blur the line between fantasy and reality, and people in a wide range of industries are concerned AI could eliminate their jobs.

Artists and writers are also bothered that AI works on reappropriating existing content for which the original creators will never receive compensation.

The World Economic Forum recently announced that AI and automation are causing a huge shake-up in the world labor market. The WEF estimates that the new technology will supplant about 85 million jobs by 2025. However, the news isn’t all bad. It also said that its analysis anticipates the “future tech-driven economy will create 97 million new jobs.”

The topic of AI is complex, but we can all agree that a new story from England shows how AI can certainly be used for the betterment of humanity. It was first covered by Tom Warren of BuzzFeed News.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

Keep ReadingShow less

Famous writers shared their book signing woes with a disheartened new author.

Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.

Keep ReadingShow less