Sarah Caden: If Amber is proved a bitch, does that mean Johnny didn't do it?
Despite her bruises, says Sarah Caden, it's easier for Johnny Depp to prove his wife's a bitch than for her to prove he beat her
So, do you believe that Johnny Depp hit Amber Heard? Maybe not. Maybe you don't feel able to give a definitive answer on that because you just don't know for a fact.
But today, just over a week after she got a restraining order against Depp, do you believe that Amber Heard is a bitch? Do you believe that, even if Depp didn't hit her, she drove him nuts over the course of their 15-month marriage? Do you believe that, to some extent, there's gold-digging afoot on Amber Heard's part?
Don't berate yourself too much if you've thought ill of Heard by now. Because, in the last week or so, if Amber Heard has, in fact, been doing some sort of dirt-raking number on Johnny Depp, then she's been outfoxed. Because, even though Amber Heard was the one who, nine days ago, had bruises on her face and a black eye, she's become the bad guy. And what's most worrying about it all, is how easy it was to make that happen.
Two Thursdays ago, it became official that the marriage between Depp and Heard had ended. There was no question but that it was she applying for the divorce and he was immediately the injured party, the broken god. In truth, this is because he's more famous. It's really not more complicated than that. He's been on a pedestal for most of his adult life, and we've had him on one for most of our adult lives. And this, perversely, makes him a good guy.
On Friday May 27, one day after news of their split became public, Amber Heard appeared in an LA court, to file for divorce and apply for a restraining order against Depp. She had cuts on her face and a bruised eye. She said that Depp had attacked her during a row when he was "high and inebriated". He had grabbed her phone, and swung his arm back like a "baseball pitcher" she alleged.
"He then forcibly pulled back my hair as I attempted to stand up from the sofa," she said. "Johnny continued screaming at me, pulling my hair, striking me and violently grabbing my face."
Depp was not in court when these accusations were levelled against him and a restraining order was granted against him. His lawyer, Laura Wasser made a statement on his behalf, saying: "Amber is a successful model and actress who earns her own income and is capable of supporting herself. Amber's anger certainly cannot drive this dissolution proceeding."
It could well be the case that Amber Heard is so angry about the end of her marriage that she wants to hurt and damage Johnny Depp by any means possible. That could mean self-inflicting wounds, it could mean bare-faced lying. It really could.
But it is a classic defence for the abuser to blame the victim and to make a villain of the victim.
In truth, there is probably no definite way for Amber Heard to prove that Johnny Depp was violent towards her. It's like a perverse 'pics or it's not true' situation. Unless we see visual evidence of him hitting her, or unless someone from his side says that they saw Depp physically abuse Amber Heard, it's hard to know how she'll ever convince us.
Some of the allegations against Depp made in the last week include that the hand injury that held up Pirates of the Caribbean filming last year were caused during a row with Heard. There was the claim that he held a pillow over her face during one incident; that he bullied her relentlessly during their relationship; that violent rages occurred on a regular basis. We saw more photos in a US magazine last week of Heard's injured face after a row several months ago. This was Heard's side of it.
From the other side, however, Depp's side did, well, better.
There was the release of her list of income and outgoings in court that showed she earns only $10k per month, but spends four times that. Gold-digger.
Then there were the "sources" who said that Depp and Heard were an unhealthy union who drove each other crazy and pushed each other's buttons.
The subtext is that Heard drove Depp crazy, which is not only a way of saying she's a nutter, but, should you slightly suspect that he might have hit her, it also reassures you that she sort of deserved it. You know, the way abusers often break down with remorse after an attack and beg their victim to explain why they made them do it? "Why do you drive me crazy? Why do you drive me to it?" You know, that sort of thing.
Among Depp's defenders was his comedian friend, Doug Stanhope, who wrote on The Wrap website last week about how "manipulative" Heard was and how she messed with the actor's head all through their marriage. He also said that he had been at Depp's house the night of the alleged May 21 attack, where he found him sullen and unhappy. Depp allegedly told Stanhope that Heard was leaving him and planning to destroy his name with terrible allegations.
There's no reason to doubt that Depp said this to Stanhope, but what if he said it in order to get in ahead of Heard's true allegations of past violence and defend himself in advance? Also, just because Depp said this does not mean that he did not assault Heard that night, after Stanhope was gone. Heard has since reportedly filed a defamation lawsuit against Stanhope.
Further defenders of Depp this week have included his daughter, Lily Rose Depp, and her mother, his ex, Vanessa Paradis. Lily Rose has said that her father is a warm and loving man. Paradis said: "In all the years I have known Johnny, he has never been physically abusive with me, and this looks nothing like the man I lived with for 14 wonderful years."
Of course, all of these people could be defending an innocent man. But another angle on this is that it is further vilification of Amber Heard as a woman who was asking for it. It's 'he was never like that with me', so, then, it must be her, it must be Heard. It's her fault. No matter what way this all falls out.
And it doesn't matter how many of Amber Heard's friends promise to testify in her favour in court, and they have - the seed of doubt has been sown. Not against Johnny Depp, but against Amber Heard. She is the one with more to prove.
Even when, last week, copies of texts between Heard and one of Depp's assistants were released, discussing Depp's remorse and Heard's agonising over the pattern of violent behaviour, she came out of it badly. The assistant said that the texts had been doctored and that was that.
Once you've been cast as a bitch, it's hard to come back from that. Harder, it could be, than being cast as a wife-beater.
But what if Johnny Depp never hit Amber Heard at all? It could still be the case that they simply had a difficult, doomed relationship that has ended very badly and very publicly badly. Worse, it is of course possible that it has ended with Heard going to quite extraordinary lengths to destroy him, and just for the sake of destroying him, just out of badness.
Funny how it all comes back to Heard being a bad bitch. Or not funny at all.