Today Amber Heard’s former friend Raquel Pennington testified to a campfire event she witnessed between Amber and Johnny Depp. According to her, Amber was sitting in the lap of another female friend. The friend had an arm draped around Amber. Although Raquel passed this off as normal, it’s bizarre to me. I’m close to my friends but we don’t sit in each other’s lap. But Amber’s previous partner was female, so perhaps it’s normal to her. Which gives reason to Johnny appearing and telling the friend, “Get your hands off my woman.” Amber got up and followed Johnny as he walked off. It’s as if she is quoting a story right out of my life.
Raquel stated Johnny had been with the group earlier, so she was surprised at his abrupt change. In her words, “It’s like a switch flipped.” As someone in that exact situation, I say that is a very accurate description. Unless you’ve been a victim of domestic violence, you cannot understand the internal and permanent damage of a person’s entire thought process.
Abusers are narcissistic and insecure. In order to validate themselves, they engage in jealousy inciting behavior. They ignore their victim and shower attention on another. Nothing makes them feel empowered more than setting up a rivalry and demeaning their victim in front of friends.
Years ago, a guy I dated was not a physical abuser but a master manipulator. He would never lay hands on me. His preferred tactic was psychological, which is an abuse of another type. The abuser’s humiliation tactics flood bone deep into the victim. Resurrected emotions surface.
The first response is to ignore it. The mindset is, if he is ignoring me, I’ll pretend it doesn’t bother me. You want to withhold the reaction he seeks. But the rejection, embarrassment, and anger crawls through you, devouring you from the inside out.
In my case, after seeking me out as soon as he arrived, he ignored me. Because I was target shooting away from the main area, he needed to find me. He wanted me to know he arrived. Instead of approaching me like a normal human, he shouts from a distance, “Who gave Joan a gun?” then ran off. It was a funny joke. I thought little about it. But that was it. He never spoke another word to me.
As night fell, we sat around a campfire. He seated himself in front of me, but pointedly ignored me. I don’t think he planned what happened next, but he sure didn’t dissuade it. A random girl seated herself on one of his knees. At once, everyone turned to me. A response was required.
I sifted through my options until I landed on one. I turned to the group of his and my friends I’d been hanging with all day and said with a laugh, “Maybe I should sit on his other knee.” That was it. Gauntlet thrown and bets made. My friend I came with immediately started telling the others not to bet because I’d do it. That only brought more money into the game. People were gathering around me, whispering and laughing. Others realized something was brewing, but they didn’t know what.
With a fair amount of money on the table and the opportunity to reclaim power, I had to do it. I rose to my feet and sauntered over with full on sass. Eager laughter and anticipation rose behind me. I sat on his free knee, wound my arm around his shoulders and said, “Hi baby.” Groans from those who thought I wouldn’t do it and celebrating from those who knew I would erupted. I watched everyone exchange money with a grin of satisfaction.
I bent to his ear and whispered, “I don’t share.” With that, I got to my feet, walked behind him, motioned to my friend to get my money and meet me at the car. According to those there, when he realized I was leaving, he told the girl to get up. She said no. He told her a few more times, and she continued to refuse. She finally got up when he basically told her to get up or he’d remove her.
I was almost to my car when he called my name. Turned, it surprised me to find him running after me. But the damage was done. I was leaving.
To others, it may have looked like a switch flipped in me. They were not privy to what transpired between us in private. They didn’t know the damage inflicted by his pushing me away with one hand and pulling me to him with the other. They knew nothing about the demons I fought and his desire to resurrect them.
I’ve heard multiple people tell similar campfire stories. It’s strange to think a laid back event turns to a catalyst for abuse. That’s why judging a person by a single behavior is never a good idea. You need a baseline of the person. Abuse doesn’t discriminate. It stretches across gender, financial status, married, and unmarried. The National Statistics for Domestic Violence indicates 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner. You don’t know if the behavior you are witnessing is a direct response to ongoing abuse. Before you judge, consider you’re witnessing a plea for help. Respond to that. And for goodness’ sake, people with shaky relationships should avoid campfires.