Fear and loathing in matrimony.

There’s trouble in paradise as actress Amber Heard files a restraining order against her husband and fellow actor Johnny Depp.

Photo by Black Mass 11

Things are not looking too good for actor Johnny Deep and his wife of 15 months, actress Amber Heard.  On Monday, May 20th, Heard filled for divorce in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing “irreconcilable differences” and requested spousal support.  The divorce was filed a couple days after the passing of Depp’s mother, Betty Sue Palmer.

Heard’s complaint alleged that Depp violently attacked her in their penthouse apartment.

Following Heard’s divorce filing, a Los Angeles judge granted a restraining order from Heard against Depp.  Heard’s complaint alleged that Depp violently attacked her in their penthouse apartment.  The two allegedly got into an altercation where Heard claims that Depp “began obsessing over something that wasn’t true” and “became extremely angry.”

In her statement, Heard claimed that Depp then threw a cellphone at her, striking her face.  He then proceeded to pull her hair and hit her.  Heard claims that Depp was under the influence when the attack happened.  The complaint requesting the restraining order also indicates two other incidents of domestic violence in the past six months of their relationship.  It also included pictures of Heard shortly after filing for the restraining order which appear to show bruising on her face.

Heard states that during the entirety of their relationship Depp has always been physically and verbally abusive towards her and claims that Depp has had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse.  Raquel Pennington—a friend who was present at the time of the recent assault—also alleged that Depp picked up a bottle of wine and swung it “like a baseball bat.”  Pennington was the one who called the police.

In response to the restraining order, Depp’s attorneys filed a memorandum of points and authorities which reject all claims of domestic violence brought by Heard.  Depp’s attorneys claim, “Amber is attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse.”  Depp’s lawyers also argue that Heard’s application for a temporary restraining order is due to the negative attention she is getting from the media after filing for divorce.

The divorce filings, as well as the claims of domestic violence, came right around the time of Johnny Depp’s new movie; “Alice Through the Looking Glass, which premiered in movie theaters, Friday, May 27th.  Due to the allegations, social media responded with a  #WeStandWithAmber hashtag in attempts to boycott Depp’s new movie release and addressing the issues of victim blaming as it relates to domestic violence.

In the state of California there are four types of restraining orders.

In the state of California there are four types of restraining orders.  The first is an Emergency Protective Order (EPO), which can only be asked for by a law enforcement officer if the officer answers a call that involves serious violence or serious threat of violence. This order is available to be issued 24 hours a day.

Second is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which is granted when you fill paperwork explaining to the judge why your need a restraining order or protective order and based on that information the judge believes you need protection a TRO will be granted.  A TRO order in the state of California is usually effective for 20 to 25 days, until the court hearing date.

On the hearing date the judge will make a permanent decision to issue a restraining order.  This third type of restraining order is called the Permanent Restraining Order and it can last up to five years. The Permanent Restraining Order is to be issued to the opposing side by someone other than the party who requested the order.  It is also recommended that the requesting party make multiple copies of the Permanent Restraining Order to give to close family members and friends.  The order is to be kept in a safe place.

The last type of protective order in the state of California is the Criminal Protective Order or “Stay-Away” Order.  This order takes place when there is an incident of violence or severe harassment and the district attorney will file criminal charges against the person who committed the violent act.

Heard was granted a TRO.  The temporary restraining order issued on Friday by Judge Carl H. Moor, states that Depp must stay 100 yards away from Heard and issued that there should be no contact between both parties.  This order is in affect until a court hearing.  The judge will hear testimony of both sides and based on the evidence will decide if a Permanent Restraining Order against Depp is necessary.

Meanwhile, there are many speculations and criticisms surrounding the divorce filings and domestic violence allegations between both parties.  Depp’s attorneys argue that Heard’s statements in the restraining order are all based on false allegations and that she is trying to blackmail Depp.  Depp has not yet commented publicly concerning the divorce filing and domestic abuse allegations.

Some are questioning why Heard initially declined to speak to the Los Angeles Police Department when they responded to the May 21st incident that sparked the restraining order.  Heard’s attorneys addressed her choice to be silent by stating that Heard declined to give a statement because she was trying to “protect her privacy and Johnny’s career.”  They feel as though her initial silence is being used against her.

Although Heard reported the alleged domestic abuse a couple of days later, trying to use a victim’s silence to discredit their story is unfortunately used too often.  According to Safe Horizon, “most domestic violence incidents are never reported.”

On a national scale, “nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.”

Domestic violence is something that should not be taking lightly.  On a national scale, “nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.”  This equates to more than 10 million women and men during one year.

The lack of domestic violence reporting can stem from multiple factors.  According to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), some factors include lack of support to victims by law enforcement, isolation from family and friends, the victim being charged with a crime, and custody of their children, among many others.

“1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.” –NCADV.  Time and time again, society has continued to cast doubt on the victims of domestic violence, posing questions as “Why did she/he stay with their abuser so long if they felt threatened?,” “Why aren’t there any physical bruises?  “Why did they wait so long to seek a protective order?”

It is not that simple.  Many victims of domestic violence do not leave because they feel as though they cannot leave.  Two major reasons why they feel as though they cannot leave are because they live in fear that their abuser will follow through with threats made and they want to protect their children.  In addition, not all domestic violence is physical.  For example, name calling and controlling behavior are also types of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is a very serious offense that affects both parties involved, the victims who suffered the abuse and the offender.  If there are findings of abuse, the offender could potentially be criminally charged along with having a protective order against them.

While domestic violence is a serious offense, false claims of domestic violence, should not be tolerated.  But our society today is also very quick to scrutinize a victim of domestic violence and assumes there is always an ulterior motive or that the victim “provoked” the action.

In regards to Heard, many questions are being raised as to the timing of the divorce filings and the domestic violence allegations.

In regards to Heard, many questions are being raised as to the timing of the divorce filings and the domestic violence allegations.  Some accusing Heard of using abuse allegations as a means to get Depp to pay her money because of how much she is asking in spousal support.  Heard is denying all the accusations against her.

Heard seems to have ample amount of evidence weighing in her favor— including an eye-witness.  Just recently, alleged text messages between Heard and Depp’s assistant have surfaced giving rise to more claims to Depp’s alleged abusive behavior towards Heard.  Depp’s ex-wife, Vanessa Paradis and his 17-year-old daughter, Lily, are both defending Depp and claiming that the accusations are “outrageous.”

Whether Heard’s allegations of abuse by Depp are true, partly true, or completely false, it will be heard in front of a judge and a final judgment regarding the restraining order will be made in the matter.  Criminal defense attorney, Debra Opri, states that evidence from both parties, as well has the history of their relationship, will be reviewed and considered in court.

The scheduled hearing will take place June 17, 2016.

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About Amaka Madu, Senior Staff Writer Emeritus (18 Articles)
Amaka Madu is a 2017 graduate of Campbell Law School and served as a Senior Staff Writer for the Campbell Law Observer. She is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Political Science. Following her first year of law school, Amaka interned at the North Carolina Court of Appeals with Honorable Judge Tyson and during the second half of her summer, she participated in the Baylor Academy of the Advocate study abroad program in St. Andrews, Scotland. Amaka also currently serves as Secretary for Campbell University’s Black Law Student Association.
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