Breaking down on the stand, Amber Heard told jurors on Monday that she filed for a domestic violence restraining order against Johnny Depp in 2016 out of desperation for a “good night’s sleep.”
“I just wanted to change my locks,” Heard said on the stand at Fairfax County Court, adding that security guards in her building “would always let [Depp] into the house…no matter if I begged them not to let him over.”
“I was scared. I was very conflicted because the person I was afraid of, was also the person I was in love with,” the actress added.
The temporary restraining order was granted in May 2016, when Heard finally filed for divorce, which she called the “hardest thing” she’s had to do in her life. But she said she didn’t think she would “survive” her marriage with Depp, whom she claimed physically, verbally, and sexually abused her for years. The pair, who met on the set of The Rum Diaries, had married in 2015.
“I was conflicted. I knew after he threw the phone at my face…I knew I had to leave him,” Heard said about the decision. “I knew I didn’t, I knew I would likely not literally survive. I was so scared that it was going to end really badly for me. I really didn’t want to leave him, I loved him so much. But I couldn’t stay.”
Heard then started sobbing as she recalled the aftermath of her divorce, including what she described as a “smear campaign” by Depp’s team. In one June 2016 recorded call that was played to jurors on Monday, Heard can be heard telling Depp she is not a liar because she was “walking proof” of his abuse. Heard added on the stand that Depp threatened he “would ruin me.”
“I was begging Johnny to not make me prove what I am sitting here having to prove to all of you today. Everything I said then, everything I’ve said to date is the truth,” Heard said on the stand. “I don’t want anything from him, just don’t call me a liar.”
Heard added that Depp told her “he would tell his team to back off” after admitting to leaking bad press about her. While she claimed she had no role in negotiating the divorce, she said all she wanted was a joint statement with Depp to quell the negative press.
Heard said she’s faced harassment—and even death threats—on a daily basis from Depp’s many supporters, and was dropped from roles by powerful people in the film industry.
“I come from nothing. All I have is my integrity. All I have is my name. That’s exactly what he promised to take away from me,” Heard said.
The emotional recounting of her failed relationship with the actor came on Heard’s third day on the stand in her civil defamation trial against Depp. Depp has sued Heard for $50 million, claiming that she “devastated” his career when she described herself as a domestic violence survivor in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. Heard’s legal team, however, has insisted she did not name Depp or discuss her marriage in the piece. Jurors are also posed to hear claims from Heard’s counter-lawsuit for $100 million, which argues she was defamed after at least one of Depp’s former attorneys suggested her account was a “hoax.”
Insisting that every word of the op-ed was accurate, Heard said that the piece was not about her ex-husband—but an opportunity to lend her “voice to what I thought was a great cause.”
“It’s not about Johnny. The only one who thought it was about Johnny, was Johnny,” Heard said.
She added that things “only got worse” after the op-ed, noting that Depp’s legal team spoke to the Daily Mail in 2020 and his account “couldn’t be more false.”
Depp has long denied any accusations of wrongdoing, saying on the stand that Heard was the abuser in the relationship—and that he has never hit a woman in his entire life.
— Law&Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) May 16, 2022
But Heard pushed back, often crying on the stand as she recounted several instances of abuse, including one harrowing 2015 incident in Australia where Depp allegedly penetrated her vagina with a liquor bottle. Weeks later, while on their honeymoon in South Asia, Heard claims Depp held her by the neck while they were sleeping on a train. The actress added that she felt so scared that Depp would accidentally kill her during that 2015 incident.
“It was a small narrow sleeper car and there were two beds, one on each side,” Heard said on Monday. “He had me up against the wall while he's standing on the floor in between the beds, and I was on the bed kind of half kneeling, half standing, trying to get his arms off my neck. And he was squeezing my neck against the railway car for what felt like a very long time.”
Ultimately, after a brutal fight at Depp’s penthouse in downtown Los Angeles, the pair decided to split up. Heard said Monday that she had “worked so hard to try to make this relationship work,” but knew it was “falling apart” and had to leave for her safety.
“The violence was now normal and not the exception,” Heard said.
Heard’s legal team also showed jurors the now-infamous photo of Heard with bruises on her face at a Los Angeles courthouse as he filed for the restraining order. Heard described how after that hearing, photographers “surrounded me” and “screamed horrible things.’
Depp, who has accused Heard of wearing make-up during that court appearance, also described to jurors the moment he learned about the May 27, 2016, court order. The actor claimed Heard chose that date intentionally, as it was his daughter’s birthday and the premiere of his newest movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass.
“I felt like it was incredibly cruel…I felt it was treachery,” Depp said about the temporary order. “I don’t know if she just wanted me to be erased or drop dead or just let me stick around and allow her to ruin my life for a while.”
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