Constance Wu, Gloria Steinem and More Support Amber Heard Against 'Public Shaming' in Open Letter

Amber Heard waits before the jury said that they believe she defamed ex-husband Johnny Depp, while announcing split verdicts in favor of both her ex-husband Johnny Depp and Heard
Amber Heard waits before the jury said that they believe she defamed ex-husband Johnny Depp, while announcing split verdicts in favor of both her ex-husband Johnny Depp and Heard

EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty

Activists and experts in the area of intimate partner violence signed an open letter calling the verdict in the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial "damaging."

On Wednesday, more than 140 top organizations and individuals focused on women's rights and domestic violence signed an open letter in support of Heard, 36, against "vilification," "ongoing online harassment" and "unprecedented" vitriol. They stressed that the June 1 verdict could have "damaging consequences" for other survivors coming forward.

"Much of this harassment was fueled by disinformation, misogyny, biphobia and a monetized social media environment where a woman's allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment," reads the letter. "The same disinformation and victim-blaming tropes are now being used against others who have alleged abuse."

"In our opinion, the Depp v. Heard verdict and continued discourse around it indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of intimate partner and sexual violence and how survivors respond to it," they continue. "The damaging consequences of the spread of this misinformation are incalculable. We have grave concerns about the rising misuse of defamation suits to threaten and silence survivors."

The letter concludes by condemning the "public shaming of Amber Heard" and adding, "We support the ability of all to report intimate partner and sexual violence free of harassment and intimidation."

It was signed by Gloria Steinem and Ms. Magazine, Constance Wu, Allen v. Farrow director Amy Ziering, the National Women's Law Center, The National Organization for Women, Women's March Foundation, Women's Equal Justice Project and more.

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US actor Johnny Depp looks on at the end of the second day of his testimony during the defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard, at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, April 20, 2022. - Depp is suing ex-wife Heard for libel after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a public figure representing domestic abuse. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
US actor Johnny Depp looks on at the end of the second day of his testimony during the defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard, at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, April 20, 2022. - Depp is suing ex-wife Heard for libel after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a public figure representing domestic abuse. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP/Getty Johnny Depp

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At the highly publicized Virginia trial earlier this year, a seven-person jury found that Heard defamed Johnny in her 2018 op-ed about domestic violence, though she didn't mention him by name in the article. He was awarded more than $10 million in damages. Additionally, Heard won one of her defamation counterclaims and was awarded $2 million. They are both appealing the verdicts.

A source close to Depp tells PEOPLE, "This was a six-week trial with extensive evidence, witnesses and key experts — all which were carefully considered by the jury when reaching their decision, unanimously ruling in Johnny's favor. This exhausting effort to question the verdict months later is an insult to the jurors as well as to the justice system."

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In a statement after the verdict, Depp, 59, said the jury "gave me my life back."

He added at the time, "My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles that I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought. From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that."

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Steve Helber/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12942408d) Actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp watch as the jury comes into the courtroom after a break at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, 16 May 2022. Johnny Depp's 50 million US dollar defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard that started on 10 April is expected to last five or six weeks. Depp v Heard defamation lawsuit at the Fairfax County Circuit Court, USA - 16 May 2022
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Steve Helber/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12942408d) Actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp watch as the jury comes into the courtroom after a break at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, 16 May 2022. Johnny Depp's 50 million US dollar defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard that started on 10 April is expected to last five or six weeks. Depp v Heard defamation lawsuit at the Fairfax County Circuit Court, USA - 16 May 2022

Steve Helber/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

"I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those supporting them never give up. I also hope that the position will now return to innocent until proven guilty, both within the courts and in the media," he said.

Heard, meanwhile, said in her post-verdict statement that she was "disappointed with what this verdict means for other women," calling it a "setback."

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"It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously," said Heard. "I believe Johnny's attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the U.K. I'm sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly."

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.