Illustrated by Vanessa Guvele.

With the recent events happening between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, a lot of conversation has been sparked. If it’s all a bit hazy, here’s a little summary: Actress Amber Heard accused Depp of physical and emotional abuse in late 2018. However, Depp has fired off a defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Heard with damning evidence against her initial claims and everyone seems to have shut up. Depp did not receive the support Heard initially did. This may be a mix of people confused on who to trust or not accepting that men aren’t always the abusers. However, conversation and defense stopping is not acceptable.

This is not an article about Depp and Heard’s court case, but their situation does defend the fact that awareness of women abusers is not contingent with that of male abusers. Many of Depp’s fans and other supporters called out those who stood against him and who are now refusing to apologize for jumping to conclusions.

The sad truth is, this is more common than we think. It has become very easy to turn abuse on the male, especially in a world that is so afraid of being looked at as lesser if a woman abuses you. Masculinity has a huge part in this — it’s not the mans fault. Society has created a negative atmosphere for men in situations like this. This stigma has been created that if a girl, woman, or what have you, physically hurts a man, then the man is weak. This is simply not true.

If we don’t alter the stigma and belief that men can be the only abusers, too many people will suffer in the future. This isn’t just physical, either. I know emotional abuse is not looked at as a serious thing in many cases, but it is very serious. Emotional abuse is not something anyone should go through. No one should be ashamed or think their feelings are invalid because someone is being emotionally abusive. It’s a real thing and many people suffer without knowing it’s happening.

All of this goes into a bigger topic of mental health awareness for men, toxic masculinity and societal norms, but we will save that for another time.

Men can be victims of abuse too. Women can also be abusers. Whether it be emotional or physical, it is abuse and they suffer. This also goes to say, don’t believe accusations until you hear from every person involved. We can’t make conclusions about the Depp and Heard case but we can learn from it.

Men, if you are in an abusive relationship, please speak out. You are strong and worthy of love better than from someone that hurts you. There are people that will believe you and fight by your side. If you need to fight back to save your own life, then do so. Speak out and be strong. You are beautiful and loved and deserve more.