A man in the UK was jailed for assaulting his girlfriend after a court heard he nicknamed her “Amber Heard” in his contacts.
Sean Lloyd, 35, was jailed for two years and four months after pleading guilty to assault causing bodily harm during a trial at Leeds Crown Court. According to Yorkshire Live, a prosecution lawyer and an unnamed woman, Lloyd’s ex-partner, presented testimony that Lloyd had assaulted the woman and named her “Amber Heard,” like the actress, in his phone.
The woman told the court that Lloyd attacked her on Aug. 4 after the two were out drinking together. At one point in the night, the partner said, the pair parted ways, so the woman went home and then texted Lloyd saying he should go back to his own place. But Lloyd came over and was “banging on the door.”
Prosecutor Jade Bucklow told the court that Lloyd then assaulted his girlfriend. He threw her phone at a wall and shoved a small table, before kicking, hitting, and strangling the woman, Bucklow said, adding that Lloyd was wearing heavy-duty work boots.
“He was on top of her with his hands around her throat. She tried to get him off her but was unable to do so and unable to scream for help. He was squeezing so tightly and she was scared that—in her words—‘That was it’ and he was going to kill her,” Bucklow said, according to Yorkshire Live.
Following the alleged Aug. 4 assault, Bucklow said the woman sustained an inchlong cut on her eyebrow, a swollen and marked-up neck, and an eye injury. She has also displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, Bucklow said. Lloyd, who has been convicted twice for drinking and driving, was arrested on the day of the assault and he maintained he didn’t remember what had happened.
In mitigation, lawyer Howard Shaw said the 35-year-old is “thoroughly ashamed of himself” and "wishes the woman to know how very sorry he is that this incident occurred and how very sorry he is for his behaviour.”
Police did not immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment.
This allegedly wasn’t the first time Lloyd had assaulted his now ex: The UK-based news site reported how he had previously attempted to strangle his girlfriend before a neighbour intervened.
Lloyd had even changed her name in his phone to “Amber Heard,” the woman told the court.
According to one advocate, it’s not surprising that Heard’s name was used as a nickname in a domestic violence case.
Earlier this year, Heard endured immense misogynistic online backlash while a multimillion-dollar defamation suit took place between the actress and her former husband, Johnny Depp. Depp launched a defamation suit against Heard in response to a 2018 Washington Post op-ed where Heard wrote about her experiences with domestic assault. The piece didn’t name Depp, but the Oscar-nominated actor maintained it’s plainly about him and that it cost him his career. Heard countersued Depp. A Virginia jury found both guilty of defamation but overwhelmingly sided with Depp. Heard has since hired new representation while she tries to appeal the case.
Heard and Depp accused each other of being abusive while maintaining their own innocence—but throughout the trial the court of public opinion heavily sided with Depp. Even before a verdict was announced, content creators on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube were trying to cash in on the case by producing anti-Heard content. People made fun of her physical appearance, called her a “liar,” and even wished her dead. It was a situation that experts warned would have long-term consequences for domestic assault survivors, who could fear Heard-level backlash for speaking out against their own experiences with violence.
Deepa Mattoo, executive director of the Toronto-based Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic that supports marginalized women who’ve survived violence, said Heard’s name hasn’t come up a lot since the suit ended, but she’s not surprised that the name was used as a label.
Words like “bitch” and “deviant” are often used to target women who speak out, and now, Heard’s own name is reportedly doubling as a label too, Mattoo said.
Considering thousands of people watching the Depp-Heard trial threw into question Heard’s allegations against Depp, her name alone carries connotations and reflects “the misogynistic view that the world took,” Mattoo said. “It’s definitely more than just a name.”
The fact that Heard’s name can be used as a label shows the “toxic” and “widespread” influence of celebrity cases, Mattoo added.
“That’s what this is doing,” she continued. “Making them feel that they are the one who is on the wrong side… Making them feel awful about themselves and pushing them to question themselves and making them feel like the world is questioning them.”
“The cases have influences on people’s behaviors,” she added.
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