Amber Heard took the stand on Wednesday in her defense against a $50 million defamation claim brought by her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, detailing in her three hours of testimony the early days of their romance and allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
“I struggle to find the words to describe how painful this is. This is horrible for me to sit here for weeks and relieve everything,” Heard said during the start of her testimony at Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Though Depp was not named in the article, he claims it cost him lucrative acting roles.
Heard’s testimony comes 14 days into the trial, after weeks of jurors hearing testimony about the explosive relationship between the actors, including from Depp himself, who testified over the course of multiple days that he has never struck a woman and accused Heard of abuse.
Heard and Depp, who met in 2009 and were married from 2015-2016, accuse the other of acts of physical violence during their relationship. They have both denied the other’s claims.
Attorneys for Depp rested their case on Tuesday.
When Heard took the stand to testify, she began talking about how she and Depp began falling in love after filming “The Rum Diary.”
“When I was around Johnny, I felt like the most beautiful person in the world. He made me feel like a million dollars,” Heard testified. “It just felt very intense.”
The two began seeing each other romantically in 2011. Heard testified they’d spend days together at a time in a “bubble,” reading books and listening to music together, then he’d disappear.
Heard was asked by attorney Elaine Bredehoft if she remembered the first time Depp hit her.
“I will never forget it. It changed my life,” Heard said.
Heard said she believed Depp was doing cocaine, that there was a vintage jar of cocaine nearby and that they were sitting together on a couch when she asked him about a tattoo on his arm and that he told her it said, “Wino.”
“I just laughed because I thought he was joking. And he slapped me across the face,” Heard said. “And I laughed. I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do. I thought this must be a joke. I didn’t know what was going on. I just stared at him.”
Heard testified that Depp hit her twice more. She said she tried to will herself to walk out.
“I knew it was wrong and I knew that I had to leave him. And that’s what broke my heart. Because I didn’t want to leave him,” Heard said. “I wish I could sit here and say I stood up and walked out of that house and I drew a line and I stood up for myself.”
Heard said that Depp got down on his knees, cried and apologized saying, “I thought I put the monster away.”
It was unclear what year the alleged incident occurred.
Heard said she did leave shortly after the incident and that she got texts from Depp apologizing profusely saying, “I’d rather cut my hand off than ever lay it upon you” and that he understood she could never forgive him.
Heard said they two reconciled shortly after the incident, and that he promised her that he’d never hit her again.
“I believed there was a line he’d never cross again and that was it,” Heard.
But she described the relationship continuing with escalating violence that she believed corresponded to Depp drinking. Heard testified that Depp would shove her, hit her, push her and that fights escalated quickly.
In Depp’s own testimony, he denied having ever struck a woman in his life.
Heard also detailed an incident in 2013 where she says Depp did a “cavity search” on her against her will.
Heard testified Wednesday that she and Depp were with friends doing drugs at a party in a desert lodging area made up of several eclectic trailers, and that when she and Depp returned to their room Depp began smashing things inside of their trailer. He accused her of hiding his cocaine, Heard testified, and began ripping off her dress and underwear.
“He was telling me, ‘We’re going to conduct a cavity search shall we?’ Like, just shoved his fingers inside me,” Heard testified.
A forensic psychologist hired by Heard’s legal team previously testified that she determined that Heard had been subjected to sexual violence by Depp.
Depp has previously denied all allegations against him.
Heard described the ups and downs of her relationship with Depp, with periods of calm when the actor was sober.
“He was the love of my life,” Heard said. “But he was also this other thing. The other thing was awful.”
The first witness called by the defense was forensic psychologist Dawn Hughes, who testified that she believed Heard has post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of intimate partner violence perpetrated by Depp.
“What these tests show is that there was a high degree of serious violence perpetrated by Mr. Depp toward Ms. Heard. There was violence more on the mild level perpetrated by Ms. Heard toward Mr. Depp with one severe indicator which was the punching that she indicated to me,” Hughes testified on Tuesday. “She was subjected to sexual violence where Mr. Depp, based on her report, was subjected to none.”
On Wednesday, Depp’s attorney Wayne Dennison played a recording of a conversation between Heard and Depp.
“I was hitting you; I was not punching you,” Heard’s voice was heard saying in the recording.
“Don’t tell me what it feels like to be punched,” Depp’s voice was heard saying in the recording.
Dennison asked Hughes if she felt the situation captured in that recording was Heard fighting back reactively.
“In this instance, if true, if she said she hit him first, then that would not be reactive violence,” Hughes said.
Dennison pressed Hughes on her assessment that violence perpetuated by Heard against Depp was “mild,” showing a graphic photo of Depp’s partially severed finger, an injury Depp said he sustained after Heard allegedly threw a glass bottle at him.
“That photograph doesn’t reflect a low level of violence, does it?” Dennison asked.
“That reflects a serious injury,” Hughes said.
Heard will return to the stand for testimony on Thursday.