Dear Charlotte,

Don’t judge me but I’m obsessed with the Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard case. Basically, I’m on Amber’s side and think she was abused and mistreated. Yeah, she was violent back, but she was scared for her life and he was only scared for his reputation. 

My husband is on Johnny Depp’s side and hates Amber and thinks she’s a liar. I’m so upset with him for not empathising with the female perspective. He’s angry at me for acting like it’s only women who can be victims of abuse. I feel like we are talking about our relationship through this circus, but also, my husband is a good guy and isn’t dangerous or violent. So am I being silly to get upset about people we don’t know who aren’t anything like us? Is it weird that this is getting to me so much? 

I will be devastated if Amber loses. Hopefully she will win!

Dear hopeful winner, 

The Johnny Depp and Amber Heard saga is deeply disturbing and I too am preoccupied by the story. Some news stories grab us, and if you are porous and tuning in, you may be experiencing a kind of vicarious trauma; you’re bearing witness to such agony. Both you and your husband may have different triggers. But the core theme is the same: you’re offended by the identification and vilification of the other. The case also shows us clashes in attitudes towards addiction and mental health, weaponising diagnoses and using psychiatric terms as grenades.  

Even though you say you’re nothing like them, I think what’s disturbing us is the uncanny familiarity of the issues that are played out in such an extreme and horrifying way. Issues of power, privacy and what’s seen in public, deception and revelation, love and hate: this case illustrates the terrifying dangers of a toxic relationship. Amber Heard and Johnny Depp remind us that relationship entanglements can be poisonous. 

Your wish for Amber to win is understandable, but the duel feels like a pyrrhic war. The victory comes with destruction and diminishment. There’s loss either way. 

What does winning mean for you and your husband in general? The fact that you don’t share the same perspective on this situation is painful, understandably, but it might be a meaningful opportunity to learn more about each other’s underlying fears. What are you afraid of? What is your husband afraid of? What is it you need him to understand about this case, and what it’s bringing up for you? Be specific and clear. See if you can make it understandable and give him a chance. Hold space for him too and see if you can grasp his point of view. 


Charlotte Fox Weber is the author of upcoming book What We Want – pre-order now here