Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial: Violence was 'mutual,' says marriage therapist

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were both violent, according to the former couple's marriage therapist.

Dr. Laurel Anderson, a clinical psychologist based in Los Angeles, said in a video deposition played in court on Thursday that the actors "engaged in what I saw as mutual abuse." Anderson worked with Heard and Depp through 21 sessions, some together as a couple and some individually, and while she didn't witness any physical violence, her assessment is based on what she was told by both Heard and Depp.

Depp, 58, is suing the 35-year-old Aquaman star for $50 million for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she wrote about being the survivor of sexual and physical abuse. Heard countersued for $100 million. The trial began earlier this week. Depp's legal team is in the process of calling witnesses.

Anderson said she was subpoenaed years ago, which is why she is testifying. She kept a ledger of notes throughout her sessions with Depp and Heard, some of which she read aloud. Anderson was first contacted by Heard in 2015.

"Ms. Heard had a jackhammer style of talking," Anderson said, recalling how Depp "was cut off a lot" by the actress. "He didn't have a voice ... he was really overwhelmed."

When asked if Heard ever reported any physical violence, Anderson replied, "Yes." She also recalled seeing several bruises on the actress's face during a visit.

Anderson, who has several masters and a PhD, brought up how both Heard and Depp were abused as children.

"[Johnny] had been well controlled for. .. almost 20, 30 years, and both were victims of abuse in their homes, but I thought he had been well controlled for decades. And with Ms. Heard he was triggered and they engaged in what I saw as mutual abuse," she said. "I know [Amber] led on more than one occasion and started it to keep [Johnny] with her because abandonment and having him leave was her worst nightmare, and I think he may have initiated it on occasions to, that I'm less sure of."

When asked how she came to the understanding that Heard physical abused Depp, Anderson said it's because "Ms. Heard reported that."

"It was a point of pride to her, if she felt disrespected, to initiate a fight. Her father had beaten her," Anderson shared.

Anderson recalled a second instance in which Heard allegedly said that if Depp "was going to leave her to deescalate from the fight, she would strike him to keep him there. [Amber] would rather be in a fight than have him leave."

In the couple's first session, Anderson recalled Heard talking about the upsetting things Depp would say: how he calls her a "whore," is "falling out of love" with her and that the actress was "getting fame from me."

Anderson made notes about how horribly they spoke to one another and that they were fighting throughout the session. "She can't let him talk," Anderson said, noting they have "terrible" communication skills.

During a solo session with Heard, the actress supposedly said Depp "hits her" with an "open hand" and that she hits back.

"[Amber] says that she hits back, and that now she starts it and sometimes hits him first," Anderson said in her testimony.

During another solo session in 2015, Heard supposedly told Anderson she "slapped" Depp.

"He was f***** up, as [Amber] would say, on a lot of drugs and she slapped him because he was being incoherent and talking about being with another woman," Anderson recalled. "She initiated that one because I think she felt demeaned and threatened."

Anderson noted Heard "loved" Depp and "he loved her."

"[Amber] knew what they were doing wasn't healthy," Anderson explained. "It had escalated to this point so she was trying to figure out what to do."

Anderson said during one conversation, Heard "was trying to strategize" and asked whether she should file a police report first about Depp's alleged abuse. Heard filed for divorce in May 2016 and her abuse claims were made public.

In June 2016, Anderson had a solo session with Depp who was "mourning the relationship" as he still loved the actress. He recalled a huge fight they had in April on Heard's 30th birthday and the "chaotic violence," but said Heard "gave as good as she got."

Anderson gave her opinion on the couple's volatile dynamic.

"[Amber] initiated fights, she started violence, she rose to the challenge if he started first," Anderson stated. "In my opinion, that had been established throughout the relationship that she fought as hard as he did. He tried to deescalate far more than I think she did."

While the violence "appeared to be mutual," Anderson only saw "bruises" on Heard. On one occasion, Anderson remembered "multiple" bruises on Heard's face.

Thursday marked the third day of witness testimony with Depp's team making their case first. The actor's friend, Gina Deuters, was dismissed by the judge in the middle of her testimony when it was revealed that Deuters had been watching this week's trial.

Heard's former assistant, Kate James, testified in a video deposition on behalf of Depp. James was fired by Heard in 2015 after three years. James recalled Heard going into a "blind rage," accusing the actress of going "absolutely ballistic — screaming, yelling, abuse." She claimed to be verbally accosted on multiple occasions. A source close to the actress dismisses James as a disgruntled employee.

James said Heard was "insecure" in her relationship with Depp and that the actress was "very dramatic person." She testified that she never saw any marks or bruises on the actress and never witnessed Depp, whom she called "a southern gentleman," to be abusive.

Depp and James stayed in touch after her firing. Heard's attorney read a text sent from the actor to James after his divorce that read: "Thank you, sweetheart... I'm disgusted that I ever f***** touched that scum... Back on Tuesday!!! And then... Court!!! Will hit you when I get back, doll... Come over for a spot of purple and we'll fix her flabby ass, nice and good!!! Loveth... J"

During Depp's U.K. libel trial, James admitted that "flabby ass" was in reference to Heard and that "spot of purple" likely meant red wine. James dismissed the notion she resented Heard.

Dr. David Kipper, who's treated Depp for his substance abuse problems, was the last witness for the day and his video deposition will continue when the trial resumes on Monday.

MORE: Amber Heard accuses Johnny Depp of multiple sexual assaults during marriage