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Why the Latest Amber Heard Revelation Is Relevant

Why the Latest Amber Heard Revelation Is Relevant

amber heard

The bisexual actress was once arrested for domestic violence against her girlfriend — why this matters has nothing to do with Johnny Depp.

The relentless back-and-forth between Amber Heard and husband Johnny Depp continues publicly after the bisexual actress filed for divorce and accused her husband of multiple incidents of assault. The latest "exclusive" comes courtesy of TMZ, which reports the actress was arrested in 2009 for assaulting her then-girlfriend, Tasya van Ree.

The women were arguing at the Seattle airport when, van Ree says, Heard grabbed and struck her arm. Heard was arrested, but Washington State declined to file charges because the women lived in California. They went home, and van Ree had two years to refile charges against Heard, and she didn't.

It would be easy to add this development to the already contentious debate without a second thought. But unless Depp comes forward and says Heard actually beat him, the Seattle story doesn't add much to the "he said, she said" gossip machine. The din is making it hard to hear what's important.

There is one valuable insight to glean from this sad discovery. The 2009 arrest ought to be a chance to note the rate of domestic violence among same-sex couples.

The 2013 National Violence Against Women survey found that 21.5 percent of men and 35.4 percent of women living with a same-sex partner experienced intimate-partner physical violence in their lifetimes. That's a big number compared with 7.1 percent and 20.4 percent for men and women, respectively, with a history of only opposite-sex cohabitation. Transgender respondents had an incidence of 34.6 percent over a lifetime according to a Massachusetts survey.

While we don't know how van Ree identifies, we do know that bisexual women face the highest rates of domestic violence -- 61.1 percent of bisexual women report abuse, compared to 43.8 percent of lesbians, 35 percent of heterosexual women, 26 percent for gay men, 37.3 percent for bisexual men, and 29 percent for heterosexual men (the study did not include gender identity or expression).

The stories about other LGBT celebrities who've been accused of different forms of intimate partner violence -- think Brittney Griner and Johnny Weir -- were met with a confused reaction by readers. LGBT people sometimes have a tendency to sweep ugly news of ourselves under the carpet, for fear one of our opponents will use it against us in a political fight for our rights. Or, maybe we don't take violence seriously when the perpetrator and victim are the same sex. No matter the reason we don't talk about it, our silence is a complete disservice to the thousands of gay and bi victims of domestic abuse.

[RELATED: What the Media's Not Telling You About Amber Heard]

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