Amber Heard has taken the stand in the defamation trial between her and ex-husband Johnny Depp.
The trial between Mr Depp and Ms Heard began on 11 April in Fairfax, Virginia following Mr Depp’s lawsuit against his ex-wife in March 2019. Mr Depp is arguing that she defamed him in a December 2018 op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.
Ms Heard said it was “horrible” to have to sit in the courtroom “for weeks” listening to people speak about her life with Mr Depp, adding that it was the “hardest thing” she has ever had to do.
Earlier this week, reports emerged that Ms Heard would take the stand in her own case, and as Wednesday arrived, a detail from a journalist confirmed those reports.
“We were just informed we will no longer be allowed to bring bottled drinks in court. The last time we were given this instruction was when Johnny Depp first took the stand. Is this an indication Amber Heard will testify this AM?” Law & Crime host Jesse Weber tweeted on Wednesday morning.
It’s believed the bottles were banned because they could be used as projectiles while Ms Heard is on the stand. Her appearance comes just days after she fired her PR firm, apparently frustrated with negative headlines surrounding the trial.
Mr Depp’s legal team cross-examined Dr Dawn Hughes on Wednesday morning.
Dr Hughes was shown a picture of a knife with the words “hasta la muerte” – “until death” in Spanish. The image has appeared previously in the trial.
Mr Depp’s lawyer Wayne Dennison asked Dr Hughes if it was her testimony that someone who was “afraid for her life” would gift this to their partner.
There’s “context”, Dr Hughes said.
Heard lawyer Elaine Bredehoft later asked Dr Hughes about that context, to which the psychologist said, “I believe that this is the knife that has a turquoise end and this was when Mr Depp was filming The Lone Ranger and he was in a turquoise phase”.
“She purchased him that because she thought it would be a kind gift. The phraseology is that Mr Depp told her ‘the only way out of this relationship is death’,” Dr Hughes said.
The psychologist said Ms Heard was engaged in “denial” concerning the “ violence in the relationship” at the time.
She added that Mr Depp’s comment came in connection to a discussion about a prenup during which he said, “I don’t want one because the only way out of this relationship is death”.
Dr Hughes said this was a “clinical cause for concern at the time”.
Ms Heard appeared to smile in the courtroom as Mr Dennison asked Dr Hughes if she spoke Spanish before showing the image of the knife, to which Dr Hughes said “un poquito” – “a little”.
Dr Hughes said that Ms Heard’s reports of intimate partner violence (IPV) were in line “with what we know and the literature” concerning IPV.
“You have no independent knowledge of the facts underlying the alleged abuse, correct?” Mr Dennison asked.
“I have the knowledge of the plethora of documents I’ve reviewed,” Dr Hughes responded.
Mr Dennison went on to note that Ms Heard’s reports of abuse to Dr Hughes came after Mr Depp’s lawsuit against Ms Heard, which Dr Hughes said was accurate.
Mr Depp’s attorney asked if a relationship could be evaluated without speaking to both sides.
“You certainly can get a lot of information from one party, absolutely,” Dr Hughes said.
On Tuesday, Dr Hughes, a psychologist testifying for the defence, went against the testimony of the psychologist called by the Depp team, Dr Shannon Curry, who took the stand earlier in the trial.
Dr Curry said Ms Heard suffered from borderline and histrionic personality and that she was faking symptoms of PTSD, while Dr Hughes pushed back on those claims, saying that Ms Heard was suffering from PTSD as a result of domestic violence and sexual assault, also disagreeing with Dr Curry’s diagnoses of personality disorders.
“Ms Heard’s report of intimate partner violence and the records that I reviewed is consistent with what we know in the field about intimate partner violence characterised by physical violence, psychological aggression, sexual violence, coercive control and surveillance behaviours,” Dr Hughes said.
The psychologist added that there were “many, many instances” where Mr Depp “tried to control how Ms Heard went about her career”.
She said he “didn’t want her to show nudity” or “boob”.
“He didn’t want her to act with certain actors because of this obsessive jealousy. He criticised her ambition. He’d rather she not work,” Dr Hughes said.
She added that this led Ms Heard to be “very fearful to have to look at scripts or talk about scripts or talk about movie roles, because he persistently put those down and told her she didn’t need to work and she didn’t need to do that, and she didn’t need to show her t**s and a**”.
Dr Hughes said that Mr Depp “called almost every actor that [Ms Heard] had to work with, males and females”.
“He would tell you, ‘I got eyes down there. I got eyes down on the set’. So she never felt safe to be herself and be an actress in these films or productions because she’d have to come home and then endure his anger at her for doing something or for not doing something,” Dr Hughes testified.
In her 2018 op-ed, Ms Heard wrote that “like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim”.
“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she added at the time.
While Mr Depp isn’t named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”. Mr Depp is seeking damages of “not less than $50m”.
Ms Heard has filed a $100m counterclaim against Mr Depp for nuisance and immunity from his allegations.