Have you heard of the Power and Control Wheel?

Domestic Violence, Depp v. Heard and Society

Annie Windholz
4 min readMay 17, 2022


First, credentialing: I am by no means an expert in domestic violence, but have worked in and adjacent to domestic violence shelters for the past 10 years. I actually just logged 40 hours of training at a local DV (domestic violence) shelter this winter, with hours of trainings fresh in my mind.

Second, if you’ve never seen the power and control wheel depicted in the picture for this piece before, then you need to start doing some research before you say another word on Depp v. Heard.

In regards to lived experience outside of the academic, I am a woman who has dated many men in this society. I have come across my own share of abusive partners (all men in my case). And I have seen friends in much more dire situations (escalating to deadly physical violence, while mine was early on emotional abuse). In all of my situations with friends and myself, the man in question (the abuser) never lost any charm in the eyes of friends and society around him. When others were presented with the idea of this side of the men, they simply refused to believe it. “He’s so nice to me.” “He’s so gentle.” “He’s so charming in Pirates of the Caribbean and on the witness stand, he would never” etc.

Male victims do exist in regards to domestic abuse, but look at the power and control wheel and tell me you think that’s whats happening with Depp v. Heard.

I am not claiming that Johnny Depp is an abuser, I am simply saying that all of you playing into patriarchal stereotypes and calling Amber Heard a “liar” and “mentally unwell” because of her portrayal of the abuse she believes she witnessed is exactly why more women don’t come forward. You know more people than you think who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence, and this is exactly why they don’t come forward. Because of your reaction. Your violent reaction to them speaking their truth (the internet had decided Amber Heard was a “psychopathic liar” before she even got to give testimony of her own experience).

And talk about gaslighting. Gaslighting is a tactic that abusers use to make their victims feel “unreliable” or “out of their mind”. After awhile of hearing that from the one you love, you start to…