Over the past month and a half, Johnny Depp's defamation trial against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, has metastasised into a cultural phenomenon.
Dominating Twitter, TikTok and our real life interactions, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't have an opinion on the trial – which, now at its pointy (and welcome) end, has painted a harrowing picture of the actors' four-year entanglement; the intimate details in both of their testimonies becoming increasingly fraught, gruesome and violent as it's progressed.
Not everyone, though, has taken the side you might expect.
Among the overwhelming majority of people demanding "justice" for the Pirates of the Carribean star is a demographic that has become some of his most outspoken supporters: women who have survived domestic violence themselves.
"I'm a survivor. And as a real survivor, I can tell you that you shouldn't believe Amber Heard," dozens of tweets and videos from victim-survivors have read.
As much as Heard's critics would have us believe that she has lost the support of some survivors because she's a "liar" or doesn't fit the antiquated trope of the "good" victim, it's actually pretty common for women to doubt other women – even if they have experienced violence themselves, University of Michigan sociologist Nicole Bedera explained on social media.
"Survivors are experts in *their* experience, but not necessarily *all* experiences of gender-based violence. And some will begin to rank other survivors' stories based on how similar they are to their own," Bedera wrote.
"The tactics perpetrators use to perpetrate are varied and often reflect the privileges they – and their victims – hold. But survivors who hold dominant identities (e.g. whiteness, heterosexuality) can be quick to try and see their own (privileged) experiences as universal.
"It's one of the reasons the benefits of #MeToo Movement haven't necessarily extended to women of colour or poverty – or working-class women. The media version of the movement really centred white wealthy women's experiences."
Another "big reason" that women try to distance themselves from high-profile survivors is because of something called "the just world theory".
"The simple version of the just world theory is that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people – that the world is fundamentally just," Dr Bedera explained.
"And women watching high-profile trials are invested in believing that to be true.
"It can be scary – and for victims, re-traumatising – for women to empathise with an abuse survivor. If violence really *is* everywhere and if it *feels* like it can happen to anyone, then a lot of women will start to worry that they will be next.
"That's too much for a lot of people to hold, especially over the course of a long trial. To avoid the psychological toll, women will refocus their empathy on a perpetrator because it's easier to stomach.
"Women invested in just world theory are also particularly likely to victim blame. By pointing out what a victim could or should have done differently, they can convince themselves that they would never experience that kind of violence."
Speaking with news.com.au, Bedera said we shouldn't be surprised that victim-survivors are speaking out against Heard.
"Survivors are not always feminists and gender-based violence is intended to reinforce traditional gender norms. That's what makes it such a powerful tool for the patriarchy," she said.
"For example, many survivors have been taught to blame themselves – and, by extension, other victims – for the violence they experienced. They are told to change how they dress or how they talk to men as a way to prevent future abuse.
"When our social response to gender-based violence collectively fails survivors, it isn't surprising that many would internalise those messages and go on to perpetrate harm themselves."
Bedera said she'd "received a lot of messages from survivors who appreciated an explanation for why survivors would disbelieve or blame each other".
"Often, they say that they felt hurt – or even gaslit – by watching their own community turn against itself, especially if the violence they experienced was similar to what Amber Heard has described," she added.
"And, of course, I have also received messages and even some hate mail from people (including a few survivors) who disagree with the thread. Usually, those messages include sexist comments, including calling me a series of gender-based slurs. Frankly, they prove the point of the thread."
While the #MeToo Movement "made it much easier for survivors to share their stories – and to be believed and treated well when they spoke out", the Depp/Heard trial has emphasised "how the legal system is still stacked against victims and can be weaponised by perpetrators as an arm of their abuse", Bedera said.
"The most important thing we can do to intervene on this pattern is expanding access to education about sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and healthy relationships," she advised.
"For a lot of survivors, their first – and sometimes, last – educational experience about these topics is their own victimisation. We need formal education in public schools to help survivors make sense of their own experiences and for all of us to learn how best to support the victims in our own lives."
Where to get help:
• If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111
• If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline
on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334
• Alternatively contact your local police station
• If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault