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letters from katherine


The Me Too Movement Isn't Dead, You Just Might Need Proof

Before we begin, I'd like to start with a list of disclaimers. First of all, I am just sharing my opinion. If you know me and would like to have a further conversation about this, feel free to text me. If you don't know me, please just read this as an opinion piece and something to think about. I'm not interested in arguing with you, and I am also not interested in you shaming me for my opinion (I can't believe I have to say that, but in a world where people receive hate for speaking up, it seems warranted.) Also, I've never met Johnny Depp or Amber Heard, and so I won't be offering my opinions on their character. I don't know if he did what she said he did and I don't know if she is what he says she is. And third, I have a bias towards Johnny Depp because I grew up watching his movies and might have had a slight crush on him when I was 13.

I haven't read all of the opinion pieces out there about this trial, but I have seen a few sensationalized tweets, texts and hashtags. "Justice for Johnny." "The Me Too Movement is Dead." I became pulled into the trial about half way through, just like many people. It had enough intrigue for me, as a former therapist, to be curious about the outcome. Knowing exactly what the forensic psychologists and the tests they used made it even more fascinating. In graduate school, I took courses on all of the assessments used and also currently know how to read a finalized report prepared by a psychologist.

And, neither party appeared fully innocent. They both said and did things that were documented that put them both in not the best light. I think to understand the final verdict, you have to listen to the charges of defamation they listed out. But, their proved actions (ones with documentation) leaves both of them with murky sides.

The Depp team did a fantastic job making his case. Like I said, only two people fully know what the truth really is, but I do think Depp's team was organized, thoughtful and well prepared. And the thing that appeared to be missing on the Heard side of things was proof. There were photos, but they seemed doctored. There were reports of vile abuse, but then she was either being photographed or filmed the next day without any marks on her body.

Was she lying? That was the question. That is the question.

If the Me Too Movement was based only on "he said, she said" statements, would that be enough? I don't really think so. I could get mad at my husband and say that he did horrible things to me. My husband has not ever laid a hurtful finger on me or anyone I know. But, if we go by only believing claims of abuse, I'd win.

The "he said, she said" (or whatever gender you want to use) statements have effect if there are multiple people saying them. If there are multiple claims of abuse, it works. But, if one person is saying them? It feels like you need proof.

If looking back on this particular phenomenon does anything, I hope it raises awareness to get help. If someone is being harmed, get help, in the moment. Call the local crisis line. Speak to an advocate (any advocate). Be proactive. Abuse, especially domestic violence, is an insidious topic and there is so much fear around speaking the truth. And, it just may be that Heard was telling the truth (we'll never know for sure, but Depp's team did seem to have a lot of information saying otherwise). In a case like this one, if Heard had any documentation of what she was accusing Depp of, she would have made her point and he would have deserved all that came to him.

If we learn anything from this particular cultural experience, I hope that we expand support for domestic violence and support for people being harmed. I hope that this broadens the awareness of domestic violence, not silence people.

The Me Too Movement (in my own words and experience) was a way to end a culture of misogyny. It was a way to say "yes I've had an experience of harm, hurt or being taken advantage of." The sheer number of people who said "me too" astonished our world.

I think the movement has done some really good things. And now it's time to expand it.

And to bring it all back to leadership, because that's what I do, if you are in a relationship that is abusive- verbally, mentally, emotionally or physically, please find your way out. I know it's hard. I've experienced the hard. And, for me, I didn't even understand the depths of abuse until it was over, because it wasn't physical. But if you think you are, then you are. And, there are people out there who can and want to help you.


Katherine Phifer









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