“It’s awful,” says Amber Heard of reliving her marriage to Johnny Depp during trial

DISCLAIMER: This story contains details about domestic abuse.

Actress Amber Heard told jurors on Wednesday how difficult it was for her to relive her troubled marriage to Johnny Depp in a defamation lawsuit he filed against her.

“I have a hard time finding the words to describe how painful it is,” she said at the start of her testimony. “It’s horrible for me to sit here for weeks and go through it all again.”

Heard’s testimony comes after a psychologist hired by his lawyers testified that Heard suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to multiple acts of abuse, including sexual violence, inflicted by Depp.

Depp is suing Heard for defamation in Fairfax County Circuit Court after he wrote a December 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post describing himself as “a public figure representing domestic violence.” The article never mentions Depp by name, but Depp’s lawyers say it was defamed nonetheless 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 that he never hit Heard and was the victim of abuse. He said she hit him repeatedly and threw things at him. He described Heard as having a “need for conflict”.

Actor Johnny Depp listens in the courtroom of Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Va., Wednesday, May 4, 2022. (Elizabeth Frantz/Associated Press)

Psychologist Dawn Hughes, in her testimony on Tuesday, acknowledged that Heard had at times perpetrated physical abuse against Depp, but said that paled in comparison to the violence she had experienced, which had intimidated her and feared for her security.

During cross-examination on Wednesday, Hughes acknowledged that she was not making a factual determination that Depp assaulted Heard on specific occasions. But she testified that Heard’s account of her experiences was consistent with accounts of people experiencing domestic abuse.

Hughes testified that the sexual assaults included being forced by Depp to perform oral sex. On cross-examination, however, Depp’s attorneys noted that Heard denied being forced to perform oral sex during psychological tests conducted as part of Hughes’ evaluation.

WATCH | See the opening statements of the US$50 million libel lawsuit:

Opening statements begin in Johnny Depp’s lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard

Opening statements begin on Tuesday in a US$50 million defamation lawsuit brought by actor Johnny Depp against his ex-wife Amber Heard. Depp says she defamed him in a 2018 opinion piece about domestic violence. Depp was not named in the article. 3:35

Hughes said Heard initially referred to the encounters as “consensual but angry sex”.

“She didn’t see them as physical strength,” Hughes said.

The trial, now in its fourth week, continues to capture public attention. More than 100 people lined up before 7 a.m. on Wednesday — three hours before the start of the hearings — 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 Canadian Association for the Elimination of Violence Database. The Canadian Women’s Foundation Help signal is a silent one-handed gesture to use in a video call to indicate that you are at risk of violence in the home. If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety or the safety of those around you, please call 911.