Ryan Phillippe is the latest actor to be slammed with accusations of committing domestic violence, as his ex-girlfriend Elsie Hewitt filed a lawsuit against him claiming he assaulted her a few months ago during what has been described as a “drunken rage.” At the time, Elsie was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and granted an emergency restraining order though Ryan was never arrested as Elsie didn’t immediately press charges.
Elsie Hewitt, 21, said that the alleged attack happened on July 4 after the two had a fight and she tried to grab her things and leave, which sparked a violent reaction in her boyfriend at the time, Ryan Phillippe, 43. She filed a lawsuit this past Monday based on claims of assault, battery, and emotional distress — describing him bruising her arm from a tight grip, and throwing her down a flight of stairs with full force. Once she got up, he allegedly kicked, pushed, and punched her, as stated in her claim.
The sad fact is this: domestic abuse happens all the time, with one in three women and one in four men experiencing some sort of physical violence from a partner in their lifetime. While reporting and handling these types of crime have gotten better in some ways in the past few decades, there are still a lot of people who never report their attacks or their attackers for fear of not being believed and feeling partially at fault.
Just a few nights ago, Nicole Kidman offered some possible reasons for why survivors so infrequently report domestic violence during her acceptance speech at the 2017 Emmy Awards saying, “[Domestic violence] exists far more than we allow ourselves to know. It is filled with shame and secrecy.”
However, another part of the reason why these disgusting crimes don’t get reported is due to a culture in our society that fails to punish perpetrators of violence against women both legally and societally. It’s this very culture that is perpetuated by Hollywood and the entertainment industry all the time. These powers continue to fail victims everywhere by standing behind accused attackers while assuming that the survivor must be lying.
Ryan is far from being the first man in the media to be accused of domestic abuse, rather another added to the long, ongoing list that Hollywood seems to ignore. Johnny Depp might be known across the board as a talented, Oscar-nominated actor, while some people aren’t even aware that his ex-wife, Amber Heard, released photos of a bruise that she got after Depp allegedly smashed an iPhone on her face. Heard, 31, filed for divorce from Depp, 54, in May 2016, and released the photos afterward, claiming that Depp assaulted her more than once throughout the course of their 15-month marriage. She appeared in court almost a week later with the same bruise on her face, and throughout the whole ordeal, there were celebrities accusing her of making everything up.
Doug Stanhope, a stand-up comedian and actor, wrote a column where he claimed Heard was blackmailing Depp with false allegations. That column was shared by Director Terry Gilliam, who added, “Like many of Johnny Depp’s friends I’m discovering that Amber is a better actress than I thought.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger also stood by his Jack Sparrow, claiming he “wasn’t worried” about Johnny’s personal problems. The Pirates of the Carribean star was still welcome to continue his involvement in both that project and the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise. The executive producer of the J.K. Rowling book-turned-film, David Heyman defended Johnny to EW saying, “Here’s the thing: Misogyny, abuse, maltreatment of people is unacceptable — but none of us know what happened in that room.” The fact that these are both films marketed towards children definitely makes a statement for itself.
Chris Brown had one of the most publicized stories of domestic abuse in the media, complete with graphic photos of brutal damage he left on the face of then-girlfriend Rihanna, but went on to have a thriving music career. Brown was 19-years-old when he made headlines for beating up Rihanna, then 21, after leaving a pre-Grammy celebration. The two got into a public argument in the car that left Rihanna with large, visible bruises and other ailments.
Brown, 28, was charged with battery and has even admitted the assault happened himself, but he wasn’t sent to the slammer at all. The rapper, who has since gone on to have collaborated with several other well-known artists, was sentenced to five years of probation and community service, rather than being given any jail time. His behavior continued to worsen, walking off the set of an interview after being asked about the assault and proceeding to smash a window, getting into several club altercations, allegedly assaulting a woman on a bus, and threatening ex-girlfriend Karruche Tran, 29, who was granted a five-year restraining order. Despite all of that, he continues to release new music, has over 20 million monthly listeners on Spotify and recently released a documentary titled Chris Brown: Welcome to My Life.
Brie Larson presented an Oscar to Casey Affleck, 42, this past season for his lead role in the film Manchester by the Sea. Larson won an Oscar for her role in Room, about a woman who was domestically abused and impregnated, while Affleck has been accused of sexual assault — making the whole situation a bad brand of ironic. Affleck was hit with sexual assault charges from not one, but two of his costars from the film, I’m Still Here. One claimed she was asleep and he crawled into bed with her, without any consent, and the other woman stated that she was pressured to stay overnight in his hotel room, saying the actor grabbed her arm when she tried to leave.
Hollywood once again brushed the serious situation off, as it was after all of these alleged altercations that Ben Affleck‘s brother was cast in Manchester By the Sea and subsequently nominated for the Oscar. The Academy voted for his win — even after claims of his wrongdoings made headlines.
It should be noted that neither Johnny nor Casey have been formally convicted of any type of abuse. While “innocent until proven guilty” is a value that America holds dearly, it’s the complete lack of concern for victims of this type of violence that creates a culture where survivors do not feel comfortable stepping forward.
We can only hope that the case between Ryan Phillippe and Elsie Hewitt will shed some serious light — not only on this case but also previous cases of violence against women both in Hollywood and in the world — so that these crimes will start being taken seriously by the public at large and victims can start gaining support and seeing justice.