Some of Hollywood’s most successful women are breaking the silence around family and domestic violence.
When Amber Heard told the world she had been abused by former husband Johnny Depp, it was easy for the public to label her a ‘victim’. But Heard is very clear: she is not a victim.
She, like many other men and women who experience FDV, is brave. Brave enough to speak up, and empower people around the globe to exit their own toxic relationships.
As she said in an open letter to ‘silent sisters everywhere’: “I was raised to be independent and self-reliant. I was never given nor wanted the burden of dependency. I never felt anyone would or could rescue me, so naturally I resented the label of victim…you, like me, see yourself not as a victim, but rather as a member of a growing class of women, daughters of a generation of equality.”
Singers Kesha and Rihanna have also come forward about their own experiences with sexual abuse and domestic violence respectively.
When Kesha filed claims against former producer Dr Luke, alleging he had raped her and stating, “I physically cannot [work with Dr Luke]. I don’t feel safe in any way”, her peers and fans showered her with support. The hashtag #FreeKesha trended on Twitter and the public lobbied Sony to free the singer from her contract with the alleged perpetrator.
Rihanna also experienced support after shocking images were released in 2009 when she was assaulted by then boyfriend singer Chris Brown.
Later returning to the relationship before breaking up again, she, like Heard, is adamant that she is not a victim. “I just never understood how the victim gets punished over and over. It’s in the past, and I don’t want to say ‘get over it’, because it’s a very serious thing that is still relevant,” she told Vanity Fair. “But, for me, and anyone who’s been a victim of domestic abuse, nobody even wants to remember it.”
Amber Heard, Kesha and Rihanna are not poster girls for domestic violence and sexual assault: to label them as such detracts from their tremendous strength and dignity. But their willingness to speak out and empower people around them to do the same is what makes them heroes to so many.
We can show the same courage as these women by asking God to give us strength. As it says in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 31, verses 6 and 7, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble…for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
If you are experiencing family and domestic violence, call 1800 RESPECT.