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Mutual Abuse and why the System is Inherently Set Up Against Survivors

The sad truth about abuse and victims of abuse is that in some cases, they have to fight back and they have to fight dirty.

As someone who has experienced family-induced trauma, it is only right I write this piece following the recently past Fathers Day. Fathers Day has always been one filled with mixed feelings for me, because unfortunately, the aggressor in my home, is my father. Watching most of his violent actions play out, I quickly understood that there was almost no way to actually stop my father from abusing my mother except to intervene physically as well. At some point in their relationship, I remember having to hit my father in order to get him off my mother. Instances such as these are why it was interesting to see the many takes surrounding the controversial Amber Heard and Johnny Depp case, especially the ones that implied the relationship was mutually abusive. While it might have been, the sad truth about abuse and victims of abuse is that in some cases, they have to fight back and they have to fight dirty. They are not ashamed or afraid to place themselves in harm’s way as long as they are liberated.

Asides from his history of alcoholism, being drunk and irate on set and other questionable behaviours, Depp also shows other signs of being abusive himself. There were claims from Amber of him being dangerously possessive in their relationship. There were also claims that he tried to isolate her from her friends and insisted on tagging Amber’s platonic friendships with women as romantic because he was aware of her bisexuality. In all honesty, in my opinion, it feels like he was threatened by her sexuality because he felt that meant he would never actually have Amber all to himself.

This insecurity goes in line with a major belief of biophobic people: bisexual people are unable to be monogamous. The belief is that no matter the gender of the person whom they are with, they will always crave the opposite gender. This has made bisexual people cautious about entering into relationships or dealing with those who have this belief because there is absolutely nothing one can do to come across as faithful to someone who holds this belief. Amber tried to keep her platonic relationships with several women and unfortunately, it appears like the more she hung around these friends, the more hurtful Depp became towards her.

Abusers love docile victims. Asides from the occasional outburst, they are more likely to treat their victims with a kinder hand when said victim easily bends to their will. This is also the best time to emotionally abuse their victim and make them more codependent, as they are likely to question their own abuse when they weigh it against their abusive partner’s supposed love and affection. It becomes very hard to distinguish between the happy times and the sad times. Once a victim begins to rebel, they become their abusers’ biggest enemy. Suddenly, the abuser cannot stand them for the majority of the time they are together. There is little to no affection being shared. The abuser may even remind the victim that things will go back to normal the moment they become obedient as they once were before.

It is very important to understand that there is almost no feasible way to escape an abuser without said abuser getting hurt in the process. Asides from incarceration and the legal option which does not put an end to domestic violence the majority of the time, there are also physical consequences that abusers might, in most cases, face from their victims. Since they strongly believe their lives or safety is in jeopardy, a lot of decisions might be taken that could seem irrational or unconscionable. This is why people who are looking on from the outside may conclude that there is mutual abuse taking place when in reality all that is happening is the caged bird struggling to get free.


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