Married by 30? That’s an age-old notion.

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Photo credit: Hitched.co.uk

One of the plagues in our world is that women are given a shelf life. Everyone normally skirts around it, but we’re earmarked like a sack of potatoes with use-by dates seared across our forehead. Usually, that use-by-date is the age of 30.

As we get older, girls and women are under constant pressure to follow a straight and narrow road – as girls it’s either close your legs, don’t pout, pull that skirt down, and as women it’s get a degree, find a steady job, settle down and have some kids. Speaking from experience, rarely are women pushed to dream or be more.

As someone getting married in August this year at the age of 23, I can verify that yes, while I am classified as ‘young’, it doesn’t feel like the ‘achievement’ that Asian families in particular often make it out to be. And that’s something anyone who is worried about being single and approaching 30 should make a note of.

Our definitions of an ‘achievement’ need to be broader than that, and certainly be unrelated to becoming a wife – because they are far, far more unique than that. That mountain you just climbed? That’s an achievement. That job you bagged after years of hard graft? That’s an achievement. That painting you just sold? That’s a bloody good achievement.

However, getting married before the age of 30 has been the yardstick measuring a woman’s achievements for as long as I can remember. And I’m sure at some points, that age boundary was lower still. But let’s think about it. Which clever clogs plucked the number 30 out of thin air? What is its significance when it comes to marriage? Why does it matter so goddamn much whether you get married when you’re 30, 40 or 50?

The pressure to get hitched before this magic number seems to be crushing the confidence of otherwise bold and beautiful women. A constant timer seems to be flashing above their heads, vanishing only when the ‘married’ box is neatly ticked. But women shouldn’t have to race against time to ‘settle down’ and find someone just so they can pop out a couple of kids with and please society. The idea that women need to settle down by 30 is itself the problem – society wants us to settle, to stop dreaming.

We’re told our careers will flail, our breasts will sag and our ovaries will stop churning out eggs if we don’t have a man in tow by 30. It feels as though women are getting increasingly anxious and paranoid as they look around at their friends and families in relationships, getting married, having babies, and thinking that they are somehow inadequate, getting left behind, not good enough.

News flash: you’re more than good enough.

If our male counterparts can get away with it, why can’t we? We’re ‘undesirable’ as we approach 30 but they’re bachelors, taking their time and playing the field. But 30 is exactly that: a number. The problem is that its been signposted as the danger zone for women alone, and it’s seriously killing our vibe.

We’re the ones worrying about the wrinkles, love handles and the odd grey hair. We’re put under pressure in countless ways, day in, day out, and still we worry about the number 30 creeping up on us. And ultimately, why are we told to ‘find a man’ in ‘good time’? It’s just so other people can feel satisfied with their version of order being restored.

Excuse the eloquent wordsmith in me, but shifting times cause shifts in shifty people. You – single, hungry and chasing your dreams – are not the problem. It’s the people who tell you that you’re somehow lacking for being single at any point in your life, let alone when you’re approaching 30, that are the problem. Because anyone who thinks that 30 is the end of someone’s life is shifty as hell.

There is nothing, I repeat, n-o-t-h-i-n-g, wrong with turning 30 and being unmarried. Just like there’s nothing wrong with being 30 and deciding you don’t want that extra slice of cake. It’s a choice, and yours alone to make.

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In defence of ’13 Reasons Why’

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the latest Netflix sensation ‘13 Reasons Why’, a story centred around teenager Hannah Baker who reveals the reasons she committed suicide through a series of tapes sent to her peers from school following her death.

The show has been widely criticised for its graphic depictions of suicide in the final episode, and Australian mental health charity headspace has been quick to raise concerns about young audiences watching the show.

The show’s writer Nic Sheef has explained the rationale behind their decision to depict these scenes to Vanity Fair, but the debate has been flung wide open: do the scenes glamorise suicide? Does it exploit vulnerable people? Is the message too negative?

After watching the show, I think ’13 Reasons Why’ wanted to show not merely the reasons why Hannah commits suicide, but why suicide is not the definitive option.

Although Hannah’s suicide is painful to watch and disturbing, warnings are given about the graphic nature of the content beforehand, and the episodes prior to this scene (there are 12 before her death is shown) slowly and inevitably build to her suicide. Anyone that decides to watch the show knows what they’ll be in for – would a show really talk at so much length about its protagonist’s suicide only to skirt around her last moments? I wouldn’t think so.

Hannah’s suicide scene offers a very gutsy insight into the fragile mindset of someone who wants to end their life. For me, the key word is ‘fragile’ – Hannah, and others who might be contemplating suicide, are exactly that. I think this is exactly the point of the show – to highlight that suicide can often become an option to someone when they’re very fragile and feel there are no other avenues left. Personally, I feel the show is explicitly telling audiences to prevent someone from reaching such a state. Let’s think about the moments where Hannah shows resilience, has hope and where her peers and family reach out to her. The issue is, it’s just not enough – they don’t ask Hannah if she’s really okay, they don’t listen and they certainty don’t pay enough attention. The suicide scene in ’13 Reasons Why’ is therefore the warning sign that we as friends, family members and peers need – it’s telling us to ask, listen and be more for someone who might need us so that they avoid becoming so fragile and begin to think that ending their life is a solution. Rather than an encouragement, this scene and the entire show is waving a big red flag in our face. Help is around – we must seek and give it.

Suicide is a word so often feared and discarded in our world. Now that a show like ’13 Reasons Why’ has decided to openly tackle it, we’re quick to shut it down – we’re hurriedly tweeting that they’ve taken it too far, that it should be removed from our screens, that its been done all wrong. But what about the other content that is waiting to be enjoyed on our to-watch list? A lot of us seem all too happy watching graphic scenes of murder, sex and war in TV shows and movies. We hurriedly buy tickets and rush to the cinema to watch grisly horrors spewing blood and guts. We hand children tablets and phones giving them access to content and information that is far more distressing than ’13 Reasons Why,’ and yet we hide from the reality that is suicide – a reality that is so, so prevalent in our world.

It seems that as a society, we’re constantly talking about reducing stigma, having more open and transparent discussions about showing something real and authentic, but are perhaps not ready to open our eyes to it just yet. I understand the concerns and worries about that ’13 Reasons Why’ may encourage ‘copy cats,’ but to focus on Hannah’s suicide scene alone when the entire show portrays instances of horror, (rape, violence and bullying) seems somehow unfair. And what Hannah goes through when she ends her life is goddamn frightening.  Hannah doesn’t look like she’s enjoying it. There’s no glamour to it. And certainly not when her parents find her body in a blood bath.

Suicide is a truth which is graphic, and the world we live in is not all unicorns and rainbows. We need something honest like ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ in a world that sugar-coats and manipulates our reality.

 

 

Book review: ‘The Book of Mirrors’ by E.O Chirovici

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How would you piece together a murder?

Do you trust other people’s memories?
Do you trust your own?
Should you?

Princeton, 1987: renowned psychologist Professor Joseph Weider is brutally murdered.

New York, twenty-five years later: literary agent Peter Katz receives a manuscript. Or is it a confession?

Today: unearth the secrets of The Book of Mirrors and discover why your memory is the most dangerous weapon of all.

Memories, those fragments from our past which can create happiness, pain and nostalgia, form the basis of Chirovici’s complex new thriller The Book of Mirrors. It’s a fascinating plot tracing the memories of Richard Flynn, who retells his version of the events which lead to the death of Professor Weider 25 years prior. One half of Flynn’s manuscript lands with an intrigued literary agent Peter Katz, who sets out to retrieve its other half with the help of reporter John Keller. Using his investigative journalism skills to piece together the events, Keller becomes embroiled in finding answers. Lastly, it’s retired cop Roy Freeman who is also on the hunt for the truth surrounding Weider’s death, and carries out his own investigation in the hopes of resolving one of his unsolved cases. Every character wishes to know who killed Professor Weider for their own reasons, and the book is thus split into parts that follow what each character deduces from their individual investigations.

Interestingly, Flynn’s memories and manuscript frame the novel and create a multilayered story within a story – Chirovic makes it clear that the ‘mirrors’ the title refers to reveals harsh truths for each character, but also creates a jarring, distorted world that flits between reality and make-believe. The idea that our memories can fade, mutate, tell us false truths or even be 100% accurate is brought to life in the novel, and adds to the uncertainty of the plot.

The Book of Mirrors does not rely as much as on aesthetic description as it does in revealing its characters’ inner monologues. As the story unfolds, it brings to mind distorted mirrors found in a fairground, where one can face many different versions of one truth, but which feels nightmarish too. The Book of Mirrors is very much a psychological conundrum, but I appreciated that Chirovic sticks closely to the narrative, and carefully ties any loose threads together by the end.

The Book of Mirrors is a fascinating read that shatters the bubble each character is living in. Intelligently written, the novel offers a good insight into the depth of our memories, and the stories that shape our lives.

Rating: 7/10

Inspired by false memories from his childhood and written in the author’s second language, remarkably The Book of Mirrors nearly wasn’t published at all.

Having been rejected in the US, E. O. Chirovici took the novel to a small UK publisher who advised him to try just one more time to get it to a wider readership. He did, and The Book of Mirrors was immediately signed by a literary agent, sparking a UK auction and world-wide rights sales.

E. O. Chirovici now lives in Brussels with his wife. He has had a prestigious and varied career in the Romanian media and has also published novels and short stories in his native language. The Book of Mirrors is his first novel in English and is being published in January.

Follow E.O Chirovici on Twitter: @EugenOChirovici

The Book of Mirrors will be published on 26th January 2017. You can pre-order it on Amazon here.

 

Book review: ‘What Alice Knew’ by T.A Cotterell

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Alice has a perfect life – a cool job, great kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; the phone rings and then goes dead; things don’t quite add up.

Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.

As far as thrillers go, it feels like many authors are striving towards reaching Gone Girl perfection. But with T.A Cotterell’s debut thriller What Alice Knew, it feels as though we’ve arrived in a newer, fresher territory from the first chapter. It’s a welcome change for readers, and one that sets it apart almost instantly.

What Alice Knew centres around Alice, a portrait artist with a relatively normal life, her husband Ed, a life-saving obstetrician, and her two kids. The picture perfect family is built up with the intention that it will eventually crumble, and crumble it does. Alice’s world is rocked when she discovers a truth that affects her day-to-day life forever. Unable to cope, she slowly finds herself swallowed by an unavoidable truth – one that Alice wishes she’d never pursued. The shattering of her world is felt acutely by the reader as we discover Alice’s innermost thoughts and begin to get a very real sense of the suffocation she is feeling throughout. Cotterell seems at his best when describing the increasing guilt Alice feels throughout the story, and in fact, her decisions become more and more questionable as the story continues. Ultimately, What Alice Knew begs the question: just how innocent and moral is everyone?

Cotterell’s strength also lies in presenting relationships that have been put to the test, and fractures steadily appear. Alice’s love for Ed is thrown into the spotlight, her past comes back to haunt her in the form of an old friend, and a visit home to her mother further throws her world into disarray. This novel is very much a pressure cooker in which Alice is bubbling away, finding relief in very little places. It is clichéd to label What Alice Knew a ‘voyage of self-discovery’, but by the end, Alice’s character develops vastly and creates the most unexpected of twists. It was a twist that had me scream ‘oh my God!’, slam the book shut and ponder, just for a few minutes, about what had just happened.

What Alice Knew is a fantastically dark thriller from Cotterell, bringing together tension and intrigue into a neatly packaged debut.

Rating: 8/10

T. A. Cotterell read History of Art at Cambridge University. He worked in the City before resigning to become a freelance writer. He is now a writer and editor at the research house Redburn. He is married with three children and lives in Bristol.

Follow T.A Cotterell on Twitter: @TACotterell1

The e-book version of What Alice Knew will be published December 2016, and its paperback in April 2017. Pre-order What Alice Knew on Amazon here.

 

We need to let movies like ‘Udta Punjab’ fly

Photo credit: DNA India

Its been a long time since I watched a movie that broke my heart. Bollywood movies in particular often fail to make me emotional because of their formulaic story lines, stock characters and their inability to depict a world that one can truly relate to. Hindi cinema rarely moves away from the norm: romantic or flawed heroes saving the day, titillating dance or ‘item’ numbers,  the glamorisation of violence and much too often, typical stereotypes in abundance.

But ‘Udta Punjab’, a film about drug abuse in Punjab, is very different. Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, it finally released on June 17th when Indians went up in arms and demanded freedom of expression. This came after the Indian Central Board of Film Certification was set to make a whopping 89 cuts to the film. Despite the Bombay High Court clearing the movie for release with just one cut, the war on drugs was not over when the movie suffered yet more controversy. Two days before its release, copies of ‘Udta Punjab’ were leaked online, free for all to watch. Many claimed it was intentionally leaked by the Indian censor board. If any movie has had difficulty reaching its audience, it has been ‘Udta Punjab.’

The movie’s brilliance however lies in its stellar script and cast. ‘Udta Punjab’ is proof that a good story and impeccable acting can move people out of the comfort of their homes and into the cinema.”Speak the truth even if your voice shakes” is a quote I associate with its release. And the movie sure does speak many truths.

We follow the lives of four people directly affected by the immeasurable drug problem plaguing Punjab, which has now become the well-established drugs capital of India. It focuses on Sartaj, an officer working for the Punjab police, Preet, a doctor dealing with the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts in her hospital, Kumari, a woman working in the fields who come across a mysterious package and finally, Tommy Singh, a Punjabi singer addicted to cocaine and facing a downward spiral because of it. ‘Udta Punjab’ reveals how these previously unconnected lives come together because of drugs, and its subsequent impact on their lives.

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Kareena Kapoor as doctor Preet and Diljit Dosanjh as police officer Sartaj in a still from ‘Udta Punjab.’ (Photo credit: Indian Express)

But why is a movie like ‘Udta Punjab’ so important? For me, the story really hit a nerve. Somewhere deep within me, I was waiting for the Bollywood film industry to make a movie focusing on my hometown, Punjab. And I didn’t want it to appear on screen all frills and beauty, with generic fields of lush green, funny-sounding horns blaring down the GT road, repetitive dialogue about delectable Punjabi cuisine or shots of colourfully-clothed women singing jaunty songs and celebrating Indian festivals. That’s the kind of Punjab the rest of India and the world dreams about, but it is far removed from what Punjab is really like. I’m glad to say this surpassed my expectations.

As someone who is Punjabi and spent less time in England and more in India, any issue that affects my hometown of Punjab is always one that affects me. Drugs has been one of them for a long time. Back home in India, I have family members addicted to drugs, and have heard many stories of the lengths they’ve gone to in order to obtain illegal substances. I know relatives who have overdosed and nearly died, addicts locked up inside their homes with families seeking help from false representatives of God, people who have hidden little sachets containing smack in their pockets for all their life, and even those who have been high and driven my family and I on 8-hour journeys from Delhi to Jalandhar – just because they can. So when it comes to drug abuse in Punjab, you can say it’s a pretty sensitive subject.

What ‘Udta Punjab’ has done for cinema goers like me is simply astounding. I walked away deeply emotional and affected by what I’d seen. The direction was impeccable and the story line brutally honest. At its heart, the movie showed the destruction brought about by the presence of drugs, and the rapid breakdown of Punjab, a state which is in absolute turmoil. The police force are represented as corrupt, calculating and ready to take their cut of 10,000 rupees at the expense of those dying for just one more hit. Helpless and lost are the young boys on the streets spending money either stolen or forcefully taken from their parents in order to shoot up. Women are sex slaves reduced to objects and abused by sadistic drug lords. Politicians mimic reality and offer drugs in exchange for crucial votes that will keep them in power – a power that will continue to allow illegal drugs into the state and which will ultimately kill thousands of people involved in the trade.

Shahid Kapoor as the drug-fuelled Punjabi star Tommy Singh. (Photo credit: India Today)

Throughout ‘Udta Punjab’ there is a sense of dwindling hope, where trusted members of society become monsters in front of our very eyes. What some would think of as a dystopian nightmare is what Punjab has definitively become. I can see exactly why the Indian censor board was so eager to make cuts to the movie. It doesn’t beat around the bush. Politicians are shown as leading and fuelling the drug abuse in the state, while the police are allies in protecting and assisting criminals in drug trafficking. Women are injected with drugs and gang-raped, blame is deflected and placed on celebrities themselves corrupted by drugs and the youth are demonic, possessed and inconsolable without their daily – if not hourly – fix.

This is how ‘Udta Punjab’ shows my hometown, and I cannot pretend this portrayal is wrong. Some scenes in the movie are so awful that I turned my face away and avoided watching. Beside me, my best friend sat in tears as we came face-to-face with a reality that is still so hard to digest. Hard-hitting. Gut-wrenching. Upsetting. Real. These are just some of the words that come to mind. But most of all, I am embarrassed and ashamed that a place I call home is living with such a crisis, and that nobody is doing anything to stop it. Drug addiction is everywhere, but not more so than in Punjab. The heights the abuse and greed has reached is spiralling out of control. Those who should be helping India to thrive are happily poisoning its name for money and power. Can it ever really end?

‘Udta Punjab’ is bleak and depressing, but for all the right reasons. While hope does come, it almost feels like it’s too late.

Alia Bhatt steals the show with her heartbreaking depiction of Kumari. (Photo credit: IBN Live)

 

Book review: ‘The Swimming Pool’ by Louise Candlish

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‘I can’t take my eyes off the water. Can you?’

It’s summer when Elm Hill lido opens, having stood empty for years. For Natalie Steele – wife, mother, teacher – it offers freedom from the tightly controlled routines of work and family. Especially when it leads her to Lara Channing, a charismatic former actress with a lavish bohemian lifestyle, who seems all too happy to invite Natalie into her elite circle.

Soon Natalie is spending long days at the pool, socializing with new friends and basking in a popularity she didn’t know she’d been missing. Real life, and the person she used to be, begins to feel very far away.

But is such a change in fortunes too good to be true? Why are dark memories of a summer long ago now threatening to surface? And, without realizing, could Natalie have been swept dangerously out of her depth?

Now more than ever, it feels as though we’re living in the golden age of female writers – especially amongst those authors writing about women in bolder and daring ways.

Last year, I was captivated by Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove, and since then I’ve been searching for books focusing on the experience of older women breaking norms. The Swimming Pool is a gripping read which centres on the start of primary school teacher Natalie’s summer break, and her fascination with the opening of a new lido in her village. More than the lido however, it is the allure of Lara Channing that has Natalie fascinated beyond measure.

A novel set in the summer like The Swimming Pool would not be complete without overflowing tension. The way in which the narrative circles around the lido creates a sultry and titillating atmosphere, and one that complements the growing tension between every character in the novel. Natalie’s family begins to drift further apart as a result of Lara’s arrival, and her relationships become far more strained as the story moves on.

Writers can often become carried away in providing too much detail and losing their readers throughout the novel, but Candlish’s writing is perfectly paced. The shifts between past and present give much to think about for the reader, particularly as Natalie’s character is not as perfect as one would expect. Just as the water in the novel drags everyone towards it, so does the past. A particularly good facet of the novel is the mystery surrounding the Channing family, and the insight into Natalie’s psyche as she attempts to understand how her age impacts her outlook on life:

“I must be experiencing the terrible midlife realization they say awaits us all, that the departure of youth is not some temporary wheeze, like when you have flu and look a decade older in the bathroom mirror, but is permanent, gone and never coming back.”

Natalie’s character carries the novel seamlessly from start to finish, and she is fascinating when revealing her induction into a glamorous new social scene. The most important relationship born from the novel is that between Natalie and Lara, with its sexual undertones and intensity. In fact, Lara reminded me very much of the allure that Daisy in The Great Gatsby represents, and her grip on Natalie increases constantly. Natalie’s fixation on Lara becomes the focus of the novel, and the lido adds to the confusion and ambiguity of the characters’ lives. Candlish is an expert at psychological exploration, and regularly blurs the lines between sexual promise and adoration:

“As she [Lara] began to circle me in that smooth way of hers that hardly rippled the surface, I grew freshly aware of our bare skin under the water. If our feet or hands or knees or elbows made contact, would it be different knowing the rest of us was naked?”

As the Channings begin to weave their magic around Natalie and envelope her own family into their lives, the novel begins to take an interesting turn and addresses the various ways in which friendships form and break down, how age and motherhood can affect one’s self-esteem and confidence and inevitably, the intriguing way in which middle-aged women’s lives often become derailed. Throughout the book there is a constant sense of danger and of death, which keeps readers on edge.

The Swimming Pool is dark and unpredictable – a seductive thriller that will keep the reader guessing until the very end, and proof that all that glitters is not gold…

Rating: 9/10

Louise Candlish studied English at University College London and worked as an editor in art publishing and as a copywriter before writing fiction. Though her stories are are about people facing dramatic dilemmas, she tries to live an uncomplicated life in London with her husband and daughter.

Follow Louise Candlish on Twitter: @louise_candlish

The Swimming Pool will be published on 28th July. It can be purchased here.

 

 

Like so many women who experience domestic violence, Amber Heard’s voice will be continually silenced

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp in January 2016
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

 

Last week saw a major Hollywood split come to everyone’s attention when it was revealed that actress Amber Heard had filed for divorce from husband and actor Johnny Depp.

And just as everyone digested this news, pictures of a bruised Heard emerged amid claims that Depp had physically, verbally and emotionally abused her throughout their marriage. Since then, Heard has been granted a temporary restraining order against him due to her claims of experiencing domestic violence, but people have not been kind about it.

Before I begin this blog post, I feel it’s important to let readers know I am fully aware that domestic violence can be experienced by anyone. However, the statistics show that in most cases, it is women who are abused:

· One in four women is abused during her lifetime.
· One in nine is severely physically abused each year.
· Two are killed each week .

(Source: Refuge)

And in most cases, it is women who must bear the burden of their ‘accusations.’

Domestic violence is a subject that is very close to my heart, and one that I feel is increasingly swept under the carpet. Quick to denounce Heard’s revelations was Depp’s friend and comic Doug Stanhope, who said in his guest column for The Wrap: “Abusing women is bullshit. Johnny doesn’t abuse anyone. And he told me that day ahead of time that she’d pull some kind of shit like this.”

Depp’s ex-wife Vanessa Paradis also came forward in a letter, stating that “in all these years I have known Johnny he has never been physically abusive with me and this looks nothing like the man I lived with for 14 wonderful years.”

Elsewhere, various publications like E! Online and my personal favourite,  The Daily Mail, scraped the barrel for news and reported that Heard was “all smiles” as she left her legal meetings. If you aren’t following where I’m going with this, you probably never will, as pointing the finger at any woman who flags domestic violence has always been treated appallingly. Even this time, it is no different.

‘Blackmailer.’ ‘Liar.’ ‘Selfish.’ ‘Manipulative.’

These are just some of the words used by those who have made it clear they do not ‘believe’ Heard, and it echoes how women are often treated when they finally find it within themselves to talk about their experience of domestic violence. “Why did she not speak up earlier?” and “why did she just not leave?” are questions that people always fire in relation to it. Women aren’t even given a chance.

Everything which has been said about Heard in the media now implies that Depp could not possibly do this. That it must be fabricated, a ploy to defame Depp, ruin his career, or get millions out of the divorce settlement. People are very quick to put on their rose-tinted glasses when their idols are attacked, so much so that they  end up refusing to see them outside of their roles as big time Hollywood stars. Reel and real becomes so blurred that people begin to follow the lives of their favourite actors almost like a tragic plot-twist in a movie: ‘no, our hero could NEVER do this!’

And as always, women are sidelined and told to silence themselves because they are ‘crazy’ or ‘delirious.’ That a woman should say a man has hit her becomes illegal in our apparently modern world. Nobody wants to hear about it, and worse still, nobody wants to do anything about it. But what else can women expect from a society and culture that Googles images of Rihanna’s swollen face after she is beaten by Chris Brown, but allows the same Chris Brown to continue making music? And Brown’s continued success does not even cover half of the pats on the back men receive despite their abusive nature.

Reading about the reaction to Heard makes me increasingly worried and furious about the millions of women worldwide who are currently experiencing domestic violence. As I type this right now, somewhere in our world, a female is being subjected to all kinds of atrocities. The fact that Heard’s visual evidence of abuse still cause the media and people to react abhorrently frightens me, since it takes courage, strength and real heart for a woman to finally express that she is suffering. Even more so if she is in the media spotlight. I for one don’t understand why a woman would go to such lengths if she was lying.

A woman’s position in society has always been decided for us, and yet again I can see Heard – and others who experience domestic violence – will have to battle again to find their voice in a world that stifles it. An abuser does not come with a flashing sign above their head saying ‘I am an abuser.’ Nor does a woman come with a sign saying ‘I am here to be abused.’ Yet why do we only choose to create that accusatory sign for women?

This is exactly why women find it so hard to speak about their experience of abuse: because someone on the other side will shake their head ‘no’ and dismiss their story. This is a cycle that has been repeated for so many times and left only those in power – like Depp and other rich, Hollywood celebrities – completely untouched.

Nobody will remember that a man carried out abuse, because they’ll only remember the woman who ‘accused’ him.