Lately, it’s been hard to open social media or news sites without seeing something about the Depp-Heard trial. We aren’t usually big fans of following cases in the media. The soundbites that are used are not reflective of the actual happenings that occur inside a courtroom. However, the media spotlight in this case does highlight some of the issues our attorneys face every day in court.
For instance, the recent Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard case illustrates the vastly different perspectives and memories that ex-spouses carry when a relationship ends. When a relationship ends badly, it is hard to remember any of the good things. The abusive nature of Depp and Heard’s relationship is reflective of many real life situations.
According to this NPR article, over 30% of people will be involved in some form of abusive relationship during their life.
Abuse is widely defined and includes a number of behaviors that do not require actual physical violence. The well-known power and control wheel, shares a comprehensive list of abuse. Control, coercion, intimidation, revenge and punishment are all considered forms of domestic violence under Colorado law (CRS 18-6-800.3).However, people have vastly different experiences, recollections and perspectives regarding what behaviors meet that definition.
One thing the Depp-Heard trial coverage mostly fails to acknowledge about abuse is whether or not one person has more perceived power in the relationship. Some things power can come from are a large age difference, who makes more money, or one person having authority over another in a professional relationship. An abusive marriage will revolve around a power dynamic like those listed.
Although many behaviors are abusive, it’s only possible to prosecute a small subsection of abusive behaviors in the criminal courts. These behaviors include physical assaults, physical harassment, destruction of property and harassing/threatening communications.
Other forms of abuse, including financial control, emotional coercion, physical intimidation, and verbal punishment are rarely prosecuted. These types of claims are most commonly heard in divorce court (or in the Depp/Heard case, in a rare civil lawsuit).
If you are leaving an abusive relationship that has a power imbalance, and you need support and assistance, give us a call and we can help you find a safe, healthy and protected way to move towards an independent future free from these dynamics.