Actor Amber Heard shared an emotional account on Wednesday of the first time Johnny Depp allegedly hit her and how violence escalated in the early days of their relationship.
Heard finally took to the stand to share her long-awaited testimony as part of the $50 million lawsuit that her ex launched in response to her speaking out about her experiences with physical abuse.
“I struggle to find the words to describe how painful this is. This is horrible for me to sit here for weeks and relive everything here,” Heard said.
Depp barely looked up during Heard’s testimony.
Heard said Depp first hit her in 2013 while the couple was sitting on a couch, Depp drinking and smoking cigarettes and music blaring. Heard told the court she had asked Depp about one of his now infamous tattoo, “Wino Forever,” a modified version of his ode to his former partner Winona Ryder. Heard said Depp hit her after she had laughed at his response.
“He slapped me across the face and I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do,” Heard said. “I just stared at him, kind of laughing still, thinking he was going to start laughing, too, to tell me it was a joke.”
Heard said that as she laughed, Depp got agitated and said, “You think it’s so funny. You think it’s so funny, bitch,” and then allegedly slapped her again.
“I stopped laughing but I didn't know what else to do; I as a woman had never been hit like that,” Heard said. “I’m an adult and I'm sitting next to the man I loved and he slapped me for no reason.”
Heard called the incident “the worst thing that had happened” to her and said Depp had slapped her a total of three times and then started apologizing: “I will never do that again. I’m so sorry, baby. ” Depp said at the time, according to Heard.
Shortly after, Heard walked out, she said, and sat in her vehicle before driving home. “I was heartbroken,” she said, adding that she eventually told her therapist. Days later, she said Depp apologized and promised he wouldn’t hurt her again.
The alleged incident, which took place early on in the relationship, is one of several that Heard is expected to address. In another alleged assault, Heard said Depp “wears a lot of rings” and she remembers “feeling like my lip went into my teeth.”
The details followed a long explanation, according to Heard, of the “intense” relationship she was building with Depp—and how it became more volatile.
The pair, who had met when she was cast for the 2011 film, The Rum Diary, had instant chemistry, and they started a secret relationship in earnest during the movie’s press tour, Heard said.
“Electricity in my body, butterflies. I couldn't see straight. I was head over heels in love,” Heard said.
She spoke of their shared passion for “obscure” books and poetry, his lavish gifts and gestures, and Depp’s generosity toward her parents and friends, often showering them with presents, too.
But Heard also said that early on Depp started making passive aggressive comments about her clothing or her work, and would sometimes disappear for days on end. When he’d return, he’d be charming again, she alleged.
When Heard brought up a dress that particularly made her feel “pretty,” Heard asked Depp if he had seen it. “I said, ‘Did you see that thing?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, the whole world saw that, kid. That’s how the whole world will remember you,’” Heard told the court.
Depp’s substance abuse—and the role it played in their relationship—has become a major theme in the proceedings, and Heard repeatedly mentioned it as a source of strain and volatility.
Heard also alleged he was jealous and often accused her of having affairs.
During the trial, Both Depp and Heard accused each other of abuse and have tried to maintain their own victimhood. Their legal teams both called on expert witnesses that support their accounts of what went down during the relationship.
Wednesday started with a cross-examination of forensic psychologist Dawn Hughes, who was brought in as an expert witness by Heard’s team. Hughes had spent 29 hours with Heard in 2019 and 2021 while conducting an evaluation.
Depp’s team suggested her work doesn’t factor in male victims of intimate partner violence. Hughes repeatedly said she knows men can be victims of abuse, and that she’s worked with male clients. Depp’s team also shared a recording in which Heard admits to hitting but not “punching” Depp.
Lawyers also pressed Hughes on the amount she’s being paid to testify.
The cross followed Hughes’ testimony on Tuesday, during which she detailed instances of sexual and physical abuse that Heard said Depp allegedly inflicted upon her, including kicking, choking, pushing, and slapping.
“When Mr. Depp was drunk or high he threw her on a bed, ripped off her nightgown, and tried to have sex with her,” Hughes said. In another instance, Depp allegedly performed a “cavity search” to see if there was cocaine in Heard’s vagina.
Heard has previously alleged that Depp once penetrated her with an alcohol bottle, which Hughes brought up in court. “When he was beating her and choking her and telling her ‘I’m going to fucking kill you, I hate you, I hate you,’ he grabbed a bottle off the bar and penetrated her with that bottle,” Hughes told the court.
She said that at the time, Heard was thinking, “Oh, god, I hope it’s not the broken one.”
Hughes also characterized Depp as “obsessively jealous” and controlling of Heard’s career.
Hughes challenged the observations offered by forensic psychologist Shannon Curry, who testified last week that Heard likely has histrionic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. Hughes said she doesn’t believe Heard has either, and instead said she believes Heard has PTSD as a result of the violence she experienced during their marriage.
The testimony runs in stark contrast to the allegations painted by Depp’s legal team.
Depp’s attorneys have tried to establish Depp as the true victim of intimate partner violence during his relationship with Heard. Depp repeatedly alleged he was abused and also said that Heard severed one of his fingers after she threw a bottle at him in 2015. But some evidence shows Depp messaging his doctor, saying he cut his own finger.
He previously told the court he lied “because I didn’t want to disclose that it had been Ms. Heard that had thrown a vodka bottle at me and took my finger off.”
The high-profile trial has revealed text messages, audio recordings, and videos that suggest the relationship between the two actors was extremely volatile.
Depp launched the defamation suit against Heard in response to a 2018 Washington Post op-ed that Heard wrote about her experiences with domestic assault—and the backlash she said she received for speaking out against it. While Heard didn’t name Depp in her piece, Depp’s team maintains it cost him his career. Heard filed a counterclaim for $100 million in damages, which the jury will also consider.
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