Advocates for domestic violence survivors in west Kentucky react to Johnny Depp, Amber Heard verdict
Holly Brantley Updated
WEST KENTUCKY — Everyone has the right to tell their truth. That’s the reaction from advocates for survivors of domestic violence in west Kentucky in response to Wednesday’s ruling in the defamation case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.
A jury found both Heard and Depp liable for defamation in their lawsuits against each other. Depp effectively won the case, with the jury awarding him more than $10 million in damages, while awarding Heard $2 million.
Heard called the case a setback for women. Depp thanked the jury for giving him his life back.
Domestic violence advocates in west Kentucky say everyone has a right to speak up and report physical, mental or emotional abuse.
Advocacy organizations and law enforcement say domestic violence is prevalent in the Local 6 area. Men and women are victims. Advocates say domestic and sexual violence doesn’t discriminate among gender, age or economic status.
“I think it’s important to remember that the media really impacts our perceptions of interpersonal violence of any kind,” Lotus Communications and Development Director Caroline Neal. Lotus is a regional children’s advocacy and sexual assault resource center in the Purchase area.
Neal says numbers tell more of the story; 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 38 men have experienced rape.
“Every year, Lotus serves more than 1,200 survivors of sexual violence and child abuse,” says Neal.
She wants every victim to know help is out there. Lotus’ goal is to respond to and prevent abuse.
“It can mean if there’s a survivor in your life that shares their story, you can listen to them and believe them,” says Neal. “The way you respond after a survivor shares their story can have a profound impact on their healing. It’s most important to believe them.”
On the law enforcement side, in Marshall County Sheriff Eddie McGuire says not a day goes by without a domestic violence call. He says every case is complicated.
“Sometimes thing look one way and we find it it’s another,” McGuire says. “That’s why we train to deal with these situations with organizations like Merryman House. That’s why we do everything we can to access the situation. We want to get the whole truth when we go to a situation.”
McGuire says the calls come from men and women, and yet many cases go unreported. Nationally, 2 out of 3 cases go unreported to law enforcement.
“It is sad, because sometimes we know someone needs help and they won’t ask for it,” McGuire says. “Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. As a law enforcement agency, there are some times that we don’t have the resources to help you if it’s not criminal in nature, but we can put you in touch with those that can help from a counseling standpoint or housing. We want to help.”
At Merryman House Executive Director Mary Foley says while the public can analyze both sides of the Depp-Heard trial, her goal is to make sure nothing convolutes the truth. Merryman House works closely with law enforcement agencies like the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office to provide training on how to respond to abusive and violent situations.
She reminds the public that domestic violence is complex. She says help is out there for men and women. That includes help for both physical and emotional abuse.
To learn more about Lotus, visit hopehealgrow.org.
To learn more about Merryman House Domestic Crisis Center, visit merrymanhouse.org.