As long as our culture refuses to hold the Depps of the world accountable, there will always be women like Heard who will be tasked with watching their abusers prosper.[TW/CW: discussion of domestic violence, rape culture and mentions of sexual assault.] New York Magazine's July 27th, 2015 cover is still as harrowing as it is iconic. Just beneath the bold red lettering of the publication's moniker are 35 women—the victims of Bill Cosby's serial sexual abuse—dressed in black and seated calmly in their chairs. The uniformity of their open poses and solemn, forward-facing expressions portray a shared preparation for public scrutiny, a feeling all too familiar to anyone who has ever spoken aloud of the abuse they have suffered. Seeing these women congregate in one image is an impactful sight on its own, but the standout element for many of us sits at the end of the last row: an empty chair. It remains unoccupied by all of the women who, despite the presence of nearly three dozen fellow survivors, still didn't feel supported enough to tell their stories. That doubt— something that so many silent survivors harbor—is substantiated by a society that not only continues to interrogate, mock, and ultimately gaslight victims of abuse, but also protects their abusers when they are especially powerful or popular. Johnny Depp is an immensely popular actor. When he and actress Amber Heard divorced in 2016, Heard detailed for the court a history of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Depp. Her testimony included pictures of her bruised face and a detailed witness account from a friend who had to physically shield Heard from Depp's assault. When his legal team claimed that Heard's accusations were false and motivated by possible financial gain, she promised to donate her entire settlement—$7 million—to charity.
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When engaging in conversations about campus assault awareness, we cannot limit it to higher education and college campuses. TW/CW: This essay contains extensive discussion of sexual violence involving minors, including mentions of r/pe. On June 10, a high school valedictorian had
Black women and femmes often represent perfect victims for what our abusers would say is not a crime. By Shannon Barber "If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive." — audre