Depp v. Heard Trial: Media Coverage

A collection of powerful articles that elevate survivors’ voices and discuss the severity and long-term implications of the Depp v. Heard trial and its verdict.

Watching the Depp v. Heard trial turn into a spectacle of misogyny has been demoralizing and triggering for many of us, especially for survivors of gender violence.

Whatever the facts, we know that there was a concerted effort to use this trial as a means to discredit the #MeToo movement, minimize the severity of violence against women and girls, and force survivors back into silence.

To counter the aggressive levels of misinformation that have, sadly, shaped public discourse, we wanted to share a collection of powerful articles that elevate survivors’ voices and discuss the severity and long-term implications of the trial and its verdict.

The New Yorker | The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard Verdict Is Chilling

Many victims of domestic violence who watched this trial will likely conclude that, if they share their experiences, they will be disbelieved, shamed, and ostracized. [READ MORE]

The Cut | How Did Johnny Depp Become the Good Guy?

Depp v. Heard put the actor’s misogyny on full display. For his fans, he still walked away the hero. [READ MORE]

VICE | The Daily Wire Spent Thousands of Dollars Promoting Anti-Amber Heard Propaganda

The conservative media outlet ran Facebook and Instagram ads for stories backing Johnny Depp, an investigation by media non-profit the Citizens for VICE World News found. [READ MORE]

The Cut | The Inescapable Horror of Depp v. Heard

The Depp v. Heard trial has revealed a collective lack of empathy for survivors and an ignorance of the very real effects that public discussion of abuse has on some people who’ve lived through it. [READ MORE]

TIME | Depp v. Heard Reminds Us That the Legal System Is Still Stacked Against Survivors

Online, Depp’s supporters are rejoicing, insisting that his victory serves as proof that the #MeToo movement went too far. But the verdict is actually proof the #MeToo movement hasn’t gone far enough. [READ MORE]

TIME | The Depp-Heard Trial Perpetuates the Myth of the Perfect Victim

Perpetuating the “perfect victim” myth will have long-term consequences. Already, women are expressing trepidation about coming forward with allegations of abuse following the Heard-Depp trial. [READ MORE]

NBC News | Johnny Depp’s Amber Heard trial verdict will have a devastating chilling effect

As a Black woman, survivor of domestic abuse and writer who has penned work detailing my abuse, I will be haunted by this verdict and its implications for years to come. [READ MORE]

19th News | Johnny Depp trial unlocks new way for abusers to exert power over survivors, experts worry

Experts say that the amount of attention on this trial is offering abusers a look at a whole new way of potentially exerting power over a survivor. [READ MORE]

USA Today | What the Amber Heard, Johnny Depp trial didn’t cover: The violence bisexual women face

Heard’s sexuality was not an explicit part of the trial, and while experts say they were glad to see that her bisexuality wasn’t used against her, they wished coverage could have done more to address the ways in which a person’s sexual identity can contribute to vulnerability. [READ MORE]

The New York Times | Amber Heard: I ‘Stand by Every Word’ of Testimony in Defamation Trial

In her first public interview since losing a defamation case brought against her by Johnny Depp, her ex-husband, Ms. Heard said she had told the truth when she accused him of abuse. [READ MORE]

The Daily Beast | Unsealed Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard Court Documents Reveal Shocking New Claims

More than 6,000 pages of docs were unsealed in the Depp v. Heard defamation saga, including Heard’s worry that Depp would use her nude pics and the exclusion of Marilyn Manson. [READ MORE]

Vulture | Could Amber Heard Win Her Appeal Against Johnny Depp?

For Heard, an appeal reflects her insistence that her allegations of abuse are true. An appeal also provides an opportunity for Heard’s case to be argued more thoroughly on First Amendment grounds. [READ MORE]


Amber Heard photo modified from author gdcgraphics. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Johnny Depp photo modified from author Harald Krichel. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. 

Virtual Courtroom Advocates Project: Helping Survivors Get Orders of Protection During COVID-19

At this year’s Above & Beyond Awards, Sanctuary is honoring a group of dedicated volunteer attorneys, summer associates, and paralegals who provided virtual pro se assistance to survivors of domestic violence seeking orders of protection during COVID-19.

Tushna is Of Counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP and a member of Sanctuary’s Pro Bono Council.

One of the unfortunate and dangerous effects of the Coronavirus pandemic has been that the frequency and intensity of domestic violence has escalated during this challenging time. With Family Courts physically closed and operating at reduced capacity as a result of the Covid-19 health crisis, those experiencing domestic violence were not able to receive in-person pro se assistance in preparing and filing family offense petitions against their abuser in order to obtain orders of protection for themselves and their children.

To address this serious gap in services, Sanctuary for Families worked quickly to create a new pro bono project called the Virtual Courtroom Advocates Project (or VCAP), which provided virtual pro se assistance to survivors of domestic violence seeking orders of protection from abuse and violence.  A group of six firms promptly agreed to staff the VCAP program and a group of dedicated volunteer attorneys, summer associates and paralegals from Cahill, Gordon & Reindel LLP, Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP, Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Simpson Thacher & Barlett LLP, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and Schulte, Roth &  Zabel LLP made a huge commitment to help these brave survivors. Volunteers from each of these firms immediately began staffing the VCAP program five days a week starting in April 2020. By the time VCAP ended on September 1, 2020, VCAP volunteers had drafted nearly 200 family offense petitions on behalf of victims of domestic violence seeking orders of protection.  Nearly 180 of those petitions were filed with the court, with almost all of the petitioners being granted an order of protection and other requested relief.

Each of the volunteers focused their time, energy, and efforts to help their clients prepare and file their petitions and to serve the Temporary Order of Protection on the respondent. VCAP attorneys were tenacious and skilled in their quest to help the clients obtain full stay away Temporary Orders of Protection. In addition, they were able to achieve hard to obtain additional relief to meet the needs of survivors of domestic violence, such as stay away orders for petitioner’s children and pets, child support orders, and orders preventing the electronic dissemination of intimate images and videos of the petitioner.

Each pro bono attorney was compassionate and patient in assisting these courageous survivors to get protection from their abusers and offered empathetic and trauma-informed support, empowering petitioners to find their own path to safety and justice. For example, one pro bono attorney worked for over a week with a petitioner who was afraid to file her family offense petition, patiently supporting the client and empowering the client to make her own decision regarding whether to file the petition. Ultimately, the client decided to move forward with filing the petition and obtained the protection she needed.

As a long-standing member of Sanctuary’s Pro Bono Council and Sanctuary supporter, I am deeply grateful to each of the caring pro bono attorneys, summer associates, and paralegals for their fierce advocacy combined with kindness and deep empathy, and the law firms that supported and facilitated their work. I am also thankful to the Sanctuary for Families staff attorneys who were instrumental in swiftly setting up this innovative program that met the urgent needs of the moment.  And, as always, I am also grateful for, and constantly inspired by, the courage and strength of the clients who stepped forward to protect themselves and their families from violence and abuse in the midst of a global health crisis.

In the words of VCAP volunteer attorney Amy Barton of Paul Weiss,

“Although my clients repeatedly expressed their appreciation to me for my assistance, in the end, they were the ones who deserved my thanks for inspiring me with their strength to find help when needed and allowing me the opportunity to try to make someone’s life a little safer in a world that seemed to be turning upside down for all of us.”

Join us at our Above & Beyond virtual celebration on October 29, 2020, as we honor the VCAP volunteers’ outstanding pro bono work. Click here to RSVP for free.

If you can’t join us, but would like to support Sanctuary for Family’s work, please consider making an Above & Beyond donation here.

New report reveals formula for success behind Sanctuary’s Economic Empowerment Program

494 women have graduated from the program.

View the full report.

For five years, our ground-breaking Economic Empowerment Program (EEP) has offered career readiness and office technology training to help survivors of gender violence disrupt the cycle of poverty, homelessness, and abuse by securing a living wage, career-track job.

Through an intensive four month training program, EEP participants focus on professional development, literacy upgrading, and advanced office technology skills that position them for living wage jobs across growing industries seeking skilled employees, including health care, financial services, technology, human services, and construction administration.

“The Economic Empowerment Program: Five Years of Transforming Lives, 2011-2016” reveals big numbers and impactful results:

  • 564 survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking enrolled – growing from 68 participants in 2011 to 146 participants in 2015
  • 494 graduates – an 88% graduation rate
  • 270 placed in career-track, living wage jobs – a higher rate than average for workforce development programs
  • $13.71 – the average current hourly wage of our graduates, more than $5 higher than New York State’s private sector minimum wage
  • 148,000 – the number of hours of advanced office technology training and literacy instruction our graduates received over the past five years – and this doesn’t even include additional time spent at internships, with individual mentoring and tutoring, and enrollment in outside courses and trainings

What makes our approach unique? Seven “Career Keys” unlock each client’s potential to move from low to living wage work: professional development, literacy, English proficiency, secondary education, IT skills, occupational skill and work experience.

After determining the Career Keys that a client needs, EEP also offers a full set of supportive services to address other barriers, such as childcare and transportation needs.

Meena, a survivor of extreme domestic violence, graduated from EEP in 2012. She says “My EEP counselor Saloni gave me the skills I needed to feel confident and move forward, while the other women enrolled in EEP were a constant source of positive energy when I was feeling uncertain about the future.

With EEP’s help, Meena obtained a full time job as a campus recruiter. She advanced quickly at her company, and today earns $75,000 a year. She is remarried, and her daughter Shari is thriving.

Read the full report and view more success stories.

Read Executive Director Judy Kluger’s op-ed about the critical need to connect survivors of gender violence with economic empowerment resources.

Learn more about the Economic Empowerment Program.

Program spotlight: Helping Orthodox Jewish women escape abuse.

The Orthodox Jewish Community Matrimonial Project is meeting a growing need.

Orly Kusher recently began working at Sanctuary for Families, where she is heading up our brand-new Orthodox Jewish Matrimonial Project, created in response to an increasing need among our clients. Orly spoke to us about this new role, the challenges she expects to tackle, and why serving Orthodox Jewish women is such a personal mission. 

Hi, Orly! Can you tell us more about your new job here at Sanctuary?

Orly: Sanctuary has created a new position entitled Orthodox Jewish Community Matrimonial Staff Attorney. This position serves Orthodox Jewish clients who are victims of domestic violence.

I represent victims in contested and uncontested matrimonial and other family law actions in New York City civil courts. These cases include divorce, custody, visitation, child support and related matters. My clients can also access Sanctuary’s range of counseling, shelter and economic empowerment services.

This position is unique because I will also represent women in divorce proceedings before the Beit Din, the Jewish court.

How did you get into this work?

Orly: I attended Hofstra University School of Law where I focused on public interest family law. I was a Child and Family Advocacy Fellow, a staff member of the Family Court Review, and a recipient of the Pro Bono Service Award of Excellence. After law school, I worked at a private law firm where I represented clients in matrimonial and family law matters.

When Sanctuary opened the Orthodox Jewish Community Matrimonial Staff Attorney position, I was excited to apply because it fit so many aspects of my background and my desire to pursue public interest family law.

I am half Israeli and I speak Hebrew fluently. I attended a Jewish day school so I was raised with a religious education. I consider myself Modern Orthodox. I observe the Sabbath and keep kosher, and therefore I share a strong connection with the community I will have the opportunity to serve.

“Orthodox” is an umbrella term for a large segment of Judaism. Who exactly are the women you serve?

Orly: I help any woman in the Orthodox Jewish world – whether she considers herself Modern Orthodox, Traditional Orthodox, Chabad, Chassidic, Charedi, or another strand of orthodoxy – who is a victim of domestic violence.

Is domestic violence a big issue in the Orthodox community?

Orly: Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of religion, class, ethnicity or background. It happens in the Orthodox community just as it happens in any and every community.

However, the cultural context and means through which domestic violence is perpetrated can vary between communities. For instance, the concept of shalom bait (Hebrew for “peace in the home”) is very important for Orthodox Jewish families.

Shalom bait is about cooperation between family members in order to maintain a healthy and peaceful home. In some instances, the concept of shalom bait is used against a domestic violence victim. Peace in the home is placed above individual rights and, as a result, the victim is expected to remain married in spite of abuse. The pressure to remain married can cause women to delay seeking help.

This cultural and religious factor shapes how abuse is viewed within the individual home and in the wider Orthodox Jewish community. Shalom bait is one major element that separates Orthodox Jewish victims from other domestic violence victims.

Because I understand the values, I know the customs, and I speak the language, I can connect with my clients in a meaningful and culturally competent manner. That means I am better equipped to understand them and advocate for them.

Can you tell us more about the get? What is it? Why is it so important?

Orly: A get is a divorce document in Jewish law. The get must be voluntarily given by the husband to the wife. A marriage remains in effect up until the time that the get is given by the husband. Obtaining the get is the only way to get a divorce in the eyes of Jewish law.

I can’t emphasize enough how critical the get is to many of the women I serve. The get is tied to their identity. Even if there is a civil divorce, without the get, they are still married under Jewish law. They can’t move on with their lives nor can they remarry; any new relationship, without a get, is considered adultery.

It is important to note that not all husbands refuse their wives a get. The process can be non-contentious. For many women, it is a significant and valued religious matter. But when a husband does refuse, the failure to obtain a get can have an intensely harmful impact upon a Jewish woman’s life. Women whose husbands have refused to give them a get are called “agunot” or chained women.

Do you only serve women seeking a get who are also victims of abuse?

Orly: Get refusal is a form of abuse. My role is to serve victims of domestic violence, which involves an abuser exerting power and control over the victim. Because of the deep power imbalance inherent in the granting of the get, and because of the damaging ramifications of refusal, woman refused a get are victims of abuse.

What role does the Beit Din, or Jewish court, play in your work?

Orly: A Beit Din is a Jewish court that presides over various business related and commercial disputes, as well as issues related to marriage and divorce. The Beit Din facilitates the process involving the get. Since most Jewish couples in the United States are married under both civil and religious law, they must have their marriage dissolved under the laws of both the civil courts and the Beit Din.

In my current position, I am representing clients in both legal systems. Although it may be challenging to appear in a forum such as the Beit Din, where women may be at an inherent disadvantage, I am committed to advocating for my clients and providing them with comprehensive and effective legal assistance.

How do you plan to get the word out about your services?

Orly: Word of mouth is the best kind of referral. I intend to reach both the victims in need of our services, and the community leaders who will be partners in this cause. I plan on collaborating with other individuals and organizations in this area both inside and outside of the Jewish community.

Right now, I am reaching out to rabbis, community leaders, and peer organizations in an effort to build up a circle of advocates who are engaged in these issues and willing to spread awareness. I know the work we do at Sanctuary will be well received within the Orthodox Jewish community and I look forward to providing our services to those in the community.

Thank you for taking the time to share with us, Orly!