These golden words were brought to life in the film adaption of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth installation of the Harry Potter series. For millions of children (and, let’s be honest, almost as many adults). Harry Potter represents a sanctuary; a world where anything is possible as long as you choose to do the right thing and to love selflessly. I’m writing this article in my Slytherin sweatshirt, not unaware of the irony, but if you didn’t already know – #JKRowlingIsOver.
Johnny Depp is an abuser. This is not a statement that is up for contest. There is filmed evidence of him being violent and abusive towards his ex-wife Amber Heard. With this knowledge in mind, fans have been yearning for their hero – Joanne Rowling – to comment on the decision to cast him as ‘Gellert Grindelwald’. One thing is abundantly clear: JK Rowling did what was easy.
Apparently, the video depicting Depp hurling a wine glass at Heard, being both physically and verbally aggressive, and eventually attempting to grab the phone away to stop her from recording him, “deeply concerned” Rowling. They “naturally considered the possibility of recasting” after pictures of Heard with a phone-shaped bruise on her face appeared on the internet.
Ultimately, however, they decided that they did not care.
Supporting survivors of sexual assault has been painted as a radical feminist action, instead of basic human decency. I have had too many arguments with people who hold strong convictions that you can’t trust survivors will tell the truth (even in the case of Anthony Rapp outing Kevin Spacey as a predator and the survivor here is a man.) What these people fail to understand is that by choosing to discredit sexual assault survivors, they perpetrate the systematic silencing of sufferers of abuse.
Rowling does ask us to bear in mind that this ordeal has been “difficult, frustrating and at times painful” for her, too. Being upset that people have called you out for a bad thing is not something that you are pitied for. The correct response to the tweets JK has been sent, from hundreds of fans begging for an explanation (that would save her, in their eyes), would have been to apologise. To apologise for betraying the trust of fans- many who are survivors themselves. To apologise for making an inordinate amount of money off of a book series about a young orphaned boy who is abused by his aunt, uncle and cousin, only to then support an abuser.
JK’s statement can be summed up in the two words she used to describe how she feels about Depp’s casting: “genuinely happy“. If you want to support victims of abuse, your first action must be to condemn abusers. Be vocal – tell people about the crimes that these celebrities have committed. Don’t financially support them by seeing their films in cinemas. Listen to survivors – the people who come out and expose their abusers stand to gain nothing from lying. Most of them are vilified and hated for having the courage to speak up. In the UK, domestic abuse affects one in four women and one in six men. Two women are murdered every week because of domestic abuse – and thirty men a year. Abuse does not just happen to celebrities, it happens to acquaintances, friends and family. Speak up, and support those who do.
Having a clear conscience is one of the easiest ways to be, to quote J.K Rowling for the last time, “genuinely happy“.