WARNING: This story contains details of intimate partner violence.
Actor Amber Heard told jurors Wednesday how difficult it has been for her to relive her troubled marriage to Johnny Depp as part of a libel lawsuit he filed against her.
“I struggle to find the words to describe how painful this is,” she said at the outset of her testimony. “This is horrible for me to sit here for weeks and relive everything.”
Heard’s testimony comes after a psychologist hired by her lawyers testified that Heard suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from multiple acts of abuse, including sexual violence, inflicted on her by Depp.
Depp is suing Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote a December 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” The article never mentions Depp by name, but Depp’s lawyers say he was defamed nevertheless because it clearly referred to accusations she made in 2016 during their divorce proceedings.
Depp spent four days on the stand earlier in the trial, testifying he never struck Heard and that he was the abuse victim. He said he was punched and struck by her on many occasions, and that she threw things at him. He described Heard as having a “need for conflict.”
Psychologist Dawn Hughes, in her testimony Tuesday, acknowledged that Heard at times perpetrated physical violence against Depp, but said it paled in comparison to violence she suffered, which left her intimidated and fearful for her safety.
During cross-examination Wednesday, Hughes acknowledged that she wasn’t making factual determinations that Depp assaulted Heard on specific occasions. But she testified that Heard’s account of her experiences are consistent with accounts of those experiencing domestic violence.
Hughes testified that sexual assaults included being forced by Depp to perform oral sex. On cross-examination, though, Depp’s lawyers noted that Heard denied being forced to perform oral sex during psychological testing performed as part of Hughes’ evaluation.
WATCH | See the opening statements in the $50 million US defamation lawsuit:
Hughes said Heard initially was framing the encounters as consensual but “angry sex.”
“She wasn’t framing them as physical force,” Hughes said.
The trial, now in its fourth week, continues to capture public attention. More than 100 people were lined up Wednesday before 7 a.m. — three hours before proceedings began — outside the courthouse for the 100 seats made available in the courtroom. Most were Depp supporters and fans.
Support is available for anyone who has been abused or assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. The Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Signal For Help is a silent, one-handed gesture to use in a video call to indicate that you are at risk of violence at home. If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.