Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial: Psychologist Heard testifies about actress’ PTSD over Depp’s abuse

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After three weeks and nearly 30 witnesses from Johnny Depp’s legal team in his defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard in Fairfax County, the defense began calling its witnesses on Tuesday afternoon, starting with a rebuttal against a previous witness who said the actress had symptoms. borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder.

Depp is suing Heard for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post in which she said she had become a public figure representing domestic violence. Depp has denied all allegations of abuse.

Dawn Hughes, a forensic and clinical psychologist from New York, said she assessed Heard over 29 hours, multiple visits and a number of tests, and conducted interviews with her mother and other doctors. Hughes said based on her assessment, she diagnosed Heard with post-traumatic stress disorder caused by Depp’s domestic abuse.

Hughes added that she disagreed with the findings and methods of Shannon Curry, a psychologist hired by Depp who testified last week; Curry said she didn’t believe Heard had PTSD and discovered she was “exaggerating” her symptoms.

“Mrs. Heard’s Report on Intimate Partner Violence and the Records I Reviewed [are] consistent with what we know about the terrain of intimate partner violence, characterized by physical abuse, psychological assault, sexual abuse, coercive control and surveillance behaviors,” Hughes said, when asked asked for his expert opinion.

Some tests she gave Heard dealt specifically with domestic violence, Hughes said, and she asked Heard what Depp had done to him and what she had done to him. “What these tests show is that there was a high degree of serious violence perpetrated by Mr. Depp towards Ms. Heard; there was more violence on a light level perpetrated by Ms Heard,” Hughes said, adding that there was a “serious” indicator of Heard; she said the actress told her she had hit Depp before as he “came after” his sister.

Hughes spent part of his testimony discussing abuse victims in general and why they don’t leave, and how a victim often feels like they can change partners. She also opened up about Heard’s childhood and said the actress was abused by her father, who had violent outbursts. This environment, Hughes said, taught Heard that “she could love someone who hurt her” and feel the need to help Depp, whose drinking and drug use became a talking point at the trial. .

Heard did not deny that she called Depp “horrible” names and insulted his parenting of his children, Hughes said, and she was remorseful; Hughes said Heard engaged in “minor forms of violence” such as pushing, shoving and throwing objects. But Hughes said that in her opinion she did not believe Heard was the abuser and that these are common behaviors for women in similar situations. She said Heard described Depp verbally and psychologically abusing her, as well as exercising extreme control, such as calling directors or actors to his film sets and letting them know he had “eyes” everywhere. Hughes added that Heard suffered from anxiety and distress as she tried to navigate her career, as Depp would yell at her if she dressed a certain way, or accused her of cheating on him with co- stars.

According to Heard’s reports, Hughes said Depp was physically and sexually abusive towards her. She said Heard alleged that when Depp was drunk or high, he would throw her on the bed, rip off her nightgown and try to have sex with her. Heard told Hughes that when she and Depp were in Australia, during a fight, he grabbed a bottle of booze from the bar and penetrated her with it. (A representative at the start of the trial said Heard’s sexual assault allegations were “fictitious.”)

Hughes said Heard’s PTSD symptoms worsened after Depp’s attorney called her sexual abuse allegations a hoax in April 2020. (She’s suing Depp for $100 million for defamation because of these comments.)

After the plaintiff’s side rested earlier Tuesday, Heard’s attorney, Benjamin Rottenborn, pleaded for the case to be dismissed. He said Depp couldn’t prove Heard acted with “genuine malice,” meaning she knew what she wrote in the op-ed was untrue. He added that there was “ample evidence” that Depp had physically abused Heard; and while disputed by Heard, he said, Depp’s own experts testified that abuse can take many forms, from verbal to psychological. He pointed to some recordings the jury heard of Depp’s screams and photos of messages he wrote in blood with his severed finger.

Depp’s attorney Benjamin Chew argued Heard was the aggressor in the relationship and said she repeated she defamed him with the op-ed even though she didn’t name him – under Virginia law, he said, it is not necessary for the defamatory accusation to be in direct terms, and “the implication was clear” that the article was about Depp. He pointed to the testimony of the general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, who wrote the op-ed, who said some members of the organization were concerned that if they removed all references to Depp, the article wouldn’t have as much impact.

Judge Penney Azcarate ultimately ruled that the case would continue. “If there is a flicker of evidence that a reasonable juror could weigh, then the case survives a motion to strike,” she said, adding that there was enough evidence so far. to continue. However, she said, she is waiting to rule on whether the headline of the article can continue to be part of the case (Heard’s lawyers said she did not). writing) and whether this constituted a “repost” of the title when Heard tweeted the link to the op-ed.

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