Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have been in the news a lot lately—and not for their latest movie roles. ICYMI, Heard recently filed for divorce from Depp, stating that her soon-to-be ex-husband physically abused her during their four-year relationship (15 months of which were spent married). The press have been having a field day reporting every last detail of the couple’s volatile split, with fans playing judge and jury on social media.
There’s a lot of misinformation about domestic violence floating around out there. Let’s clear the air: Here are five facts you most definitely need to know.
1.It Happens to Women and Men—a Lot
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every four women and one in seven men ages 18 and up in the U.S. have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (This type of violence alone affects more than 12 million people annually.)
While these numbers seem staggering, they don’t even paint the whole picture. For starters, experts believe the number of men who are victims of domestic violence is underreported due to stigma, says Cameka Crawford, chief communications officer at the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect. Plus, Crawford points out that these numbers only account for “severe physical violence,” which doesn’t include all types of domestic abuse. (At its most basic definition, domestic abuse is any situation in which one partner exerts control over the other.)
2.Domestic Violence Leads to Major Financial Strain
The costs of intimate partner violence exceed $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services, according to a study by the CDC and National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 15 percent of that $5.8 billion represents women’s lost income. Domestic violence leads to the victim becoming dependent on the abuser in a variety of ways—financially, emotionally, and sexually, to name a few. Specifically, domestic violence has a huge impact on the victim’s ability to work. Nearly eight million days of paid work each year are lost due to domestic violence, according to the CDC. That’s the equivalent to more than 32,000 full-time jobs.
3.It Takes a Toll on Other Parts of Your Health
Seventy percent of women have a chronic health condition; that number increases to 88 percent for women who have suffered sexual abuse and 81 percent for women who have suffered any form of domestic violence, according to a 2013 Verizon and More magazine survey. Some of the most common health issues associated with domestic abuse are high blood pressure, lower back pain, headaches, sleeping problems, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, each year 324,000 pregnant women are battered by their intimate partners, according to a study in the journal of Maternal and Child Health. That makes abuse more common for pregnant women than gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. Unfortunately, it was highly reported by those surveyed in these studies that nurses and doctors never asked them about domestic violence in a medical exam.
4.Just Because Someone Isn’t Abusive in One Relationship Doesn’t Mean They Won’t Be in Another
This is a common misconception—and it’s one we’ve heard a lot about recently. Johnny Depp’s exes, Lori Anne Allison and Vanessa Paradis, have publically called Amber Heard’s allegations unfounded and not in line with their experiences with the actor. Regardless of the truth behind this specific case, just because this hasn’t happened before doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future—each relationship is different. If a friend or loved one comes to you with claims of abuse, it’s essential that you believe him or her, says Crawford. Even if you’re in a state of disbelief and thought you really knew the person being accused of abuse, it’s important to recognize that your friend knows their partner better than anyone, says Crawford. You can never really know what goes on between two people in a relationship, she adds.
5.There Are Many Forms of Domestic Violence
“Of 300,000 calls and texts our hotline receives, 84 percent are reporting experiencing emotional abuse,” says Crawford. Beyond that, abuse can also be financial, sexual, or mental. Examples of financial abuse can include running up a partner’s credit or withholding their income in order to make it impossible for the victim to leave. Mentally, abusers are also known to practice “gaslighting,” in which they intentionally make their victim feel as though they’re going crazy through manipulation, such as moving items around the house without telling the other person.
Just as there are different kinds of domestic abuse, there are different types of relationships through which it manifests. Abuse can be instigated by a child upon an elderly parent, a parent upon their child, siblings upon siblings, and of course between intimate partners—any scenario in which someone is taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of a person close to them can become abuse.