It Happens Everywhere is our newsletter where we take a look at what is happening in the world and try to start a conversation, a conversation that will make people think, and hopefully stand up against sexual violence.
It Happens Here, It Happens Everywhere.
CN: domestic abuse, child abuse
Amber Heard Files for divorce from Johnny Depp, citing years of abuse
This week Amber Heard filed for divorce from Johnny Depp and had a restraining order put out against him for physical and psychological abuse throughout their marriage.
The response from the media and general opinion is not surprising but is saddening. There is much scepticism and there are multiple suggestions that she is attempting to secure a beneficial financial resolution by alleging abuse- but Heard has pointed out that she is financially independent as things stand. False accusations for these kinds of crimes are not thought to be significantly higher than for any other crime and are rare. Yet, dishonesty is often assumed, and reasons for why it’s likely are often sought out.
There are also many members of Depp’s friends and family coming out to say that he could not have done it, citing their relationships with him and the kindness that he has shown them. This construes another myth about domestic violence which is all too common: that everyone who does it is a monster through and through and will be abusive in every relationship they have. This response comes up all too often in cases of both sexual and domestic violence- the idea that because a person has been nice and kind they couldn’t possibly have done it.
Someone can be a good friend, a good parent, have not been abusive in the past, and still be an abuser. Incidents of sexual and domestic violence and hence perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence are far more common than the amount of people who act in a horrific manner in their every interaction – people are multi-faceted and often abusers spend much of their time as pleasant people who we know and love. To truly help support and believe survivors, to give them confidence in coming forward, and to increase conviction rates, we need to begin to believe this is possible.
Oldham Athletic Footballer charged with grooming of and sexual activity with an underage girl
Last week Thursday (26th May,) a professional footballer appeared in court on charges of grooming , inciting to engage in sexual activity, and sexual activity with an underage girl. The player was suspended from the team with immediate effect until further notice.
Hopefully the fact this case is in the limelight will give other people with similar experiences confidence in coming forward and pressing charges.
Texas teacher charged with continuous sexual abuse of 8th grade pupil
On Wednesday, 8 months after a 24 year old teacher started having sex with a 13 year old pupil, was arrested on the charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child. They were having sex on an almost daily basis in their home and the relationship was known to certain members of staff, other students and the boy’s family.
The response to the case has been shocking and sends an incredibly damaging message to teenage boys, potential abusers, and to the world; much of the coverage and the online discourse has seemed to find it entertaining, and the boy has been congratulated and praised online for ‘pulling’ his teacher. Yet, the case is one where a vulnerable child has been exploited, groomed and abused.
The huge age gap, the fact of his age, and the power imbalance and their implications is seemingly lost in significance because of the sexist assumption and stereotype that teenage boys are constantly seeking sex, seeing it as the fulfilment of a fantasy to be enjoyed and not what it is; an adult taking advantage of a child who is unable to consent.
If it were a male teacher and a 13 year old girl, it would not be seen in this light- but somehow gendered stereotypes mean that a damaging kind of victim blaming is taking place; to suggest that because he is a teenage boy he is somehow complicit in the abuse, (or to suggest that it’s not to be treated as abuse,) because he must of wanted it and enjoyed it.
This stereotype that men and boys always want sex leads to damaging myths like the idea that a man cannot be raped by a woman. This stereotype means that male survivors are often the butt of a joke and are not believed. This notion is part of the reason that male survivors are even less likely to speak out about sexual violence or go the police than female survivors.