There is so much chatter about the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial and it’s become basically impossible to avoid it. I have found myself to be very invested lately, recording the trial daily, and watching most of the testimony- although I struggled to listen to Amber ramble for two days straight. Amber appeared to be very theatrical, dramatic, and unbelievable. Her body language and lack of actual tears during her “crying”, made it really evident that she was trying too hard- that doesn’t say much for her acting career.
While I’m not an attorney, therapist, or any expert really, having experienced a toxic and abusive relationship, and researching narcissism for years, I feel like I have a great understanding for what transpired, and I have developed a strong opinion so far. As we all anxiously wait for the 10 day trial break to come to an end, I wanted to talk about what has transpired so far.
I’m going to start with Johnny’s history. While there is no denying (and he has admitted), that he had a serious substance abuse problem, which would most definitely cause some stress and toxicity in the relationship, it doesn’t signify abuse. I know that I drank significantly more alcohol when I was with my ex, in a poor attempt to cope with the relationship. The alcohol temporarily numbed me but also made me more anxious and depressed.
I also want to differentiate between physical and emotional abuse- both are traumatic and cause significant harm to a person’s mental state and can lead to PTSD. It has been said that emotional abuse can be more damaging mentally. Amber is citing mostly physical abuse and claiming that she developed PTSD from this relationship. While I experienced both types of abuse, the majority was emotional abuse, that included constant criticism, name-calling, yelling, swearing, and rejection. There were some texts, emails, and voice conversations that Amber recorded that included Jonny name-calling and yelling, but it was obvious to me after hearing all the testimony that it was reactive. He was responding to the constant instigation of arguments, gas-lighting, and threats. She was frequently humiliating him and provoking him. There comes a time that you snap, and experience what’s called reactive abuse. Reactive abuse is essentially self-defense from being terrorized by the abuser in the hope that they will stop.
To me, the most important piece to this puzzle is Johnny’s relationship history. He is approaching his 60s and has had many relationships, including a marriage prior to Amber, a 14-year relationship with the mother of his children (who he has known for a total of 25 years), as well as some other long-term relationships. All of his exes have come to his defense, with statements about how kind, generous and calm this man always was. The reason this is so important, is historically, an abuser, is an abuser and does not become one overnight- as they say, a leopard doesn’t change its spots. He has no history of violence or abuse, even when he was battling his demons of alcohol and drug abuse. His first wife not only said that he was never violent or abusive, but that he never even raised his voice.
While I have no doubt that Amber brought out the worst in him, like my ex did to me, I see him as the victim, and not the abuser. There has been some talk about the relationship possibly being mutually abusive, but I don’t believe that. I do believe that it was mutually toxic, but that is not the same. I know that the person I was when I was with my narcissistic ex, is not the same person that I was before him, or the person I am today. The abuse often made me more confrontational, angry, and cynical. People who see me now, comment on how different my demeanor is how much more relaxed I am. The problem is that when you are in the midst of the relationship, you don’t see that in yourself.
You can see that Amber was often insulting and degrading towards Johnny. This is a tactic that abusers tend to use to wear down the person’s self-esteem and self-worth, making them too weak to leave.
One of the other things that stood out to me is the testimony of Amber’s former assistant, Kate. The way a person treats their employees and even their servers, says a lot about them. While I don’t know firsthand how Amber treated waitstaff/servers, it was made clear that she treated Kate terribly. She endured verbal abuse, yelling and Amber even spit in her face. She described her as having “fits of rage” This is common for abusers to have little to no respect for their staff. My ex often called his employees, stupid, morons, idiots, etc. He would yell and swear at them and claim that he had the right to do so, as their boss. He needed that power and control and anything bad that happened, would automatically be their fault.
In terms of treatment of servers, according to servers who have waited on Johnny, he is known to be kind, polite and not- demanding, while they dreaded waiting on Amber. My ex was often demanding of servers and would be known to yell to get another drink, and then call it a joke. There were many time that I wanted to crawl under the table out of embarrassment.
I also noticed that when she is not looking at the jury, she is staring at Johnny. While Johnny doesn’t want to look at her, as I imagine that it would cause him pain. If Amber was abused by him, she wouldn’t feel comfortable looking at him and she certainly wouldn’t smile while talking about their “good times” and how madly in love she was. Making eye contact with anyone in general when discussing trauma is very unusual. I also noticed that the language she used during the testimony, while describing the events really /aligned with Dr. Curry’s evaluation. Amber uses “flowery language” to describe things, leaving people confused. Remembering so many details of traumatic events is not typical or likely, so hearing how her dog stepped on a bee or how she noticed the dirty carpet (stolen from the documentary Maid), was unsettling.
During the trial, Amber was also trying to intimidate Johnny by wearing similar clothes, rings, and hair style, and she decided that she needed reading glasses like he had, even though she didn’t need them on other days. I found very uncomfortable to watch.
During the relationship, she wasn’t walking on eggshells, but rather trying to instigate arguments and instead of letting him walk away, would beg him to stay which doesn’t align with her reports of her being fearful of him- she would let him leave if she feared him. Not to mention, if she was so scared of him, why would she purposely shit in his bed and leave it for him to see? Make it make sense!
In the recordings that she took, when he said something that she didn’t like or she was caught in a lie, it would hit a nerve and she would become defensive, and combative. She would raise her voice and start swearing and talking in circles to try to shift the blame.
What bothered me the most is when she was picking flights after being told that Johnny needed to avoid stress while he was detoxing. The nurse ended up asking him to not have any more phone conversations with her because it was causing him too much stress. This reminded me of when I was diagnosed with my brain tumor and had seizures. The doctors made it clear that I needed as little stress as possible so that I wasn’t triggered into a seizure while waiting for surgery, but that didn’t happen. He did however tell so many people that his fiancé or wife (as he sometimes called me) had a brain tumor and even used it as an excuse for some customers when he didn’t want to do something or missed an appointment. I think he enjoyed the “poor me” attention. Narcissists don’t do well when the attention is focused on anyone else besides themselves.
Overall, from my perspective, Johnny is being authentic in his testimony. He is not claiming to be perfect, but he is very clearly telling the world that he never laid a hand on Amber, and I believe him. Amber on the other hand, is quoting lines from movies and books and (poorly) attempting to deliver the performance of her life. As an empath, when she is telling her side and “looking sad”, I don’t feel anything and never have to hold back tears- that tells me everything that I need to know.
Lastly, for everyone asking why Johnny stayed with her… here are some of reasons that he told the court, and yes, this made me tear up:
“I thought I could help her”
“My father stayed when my mother beat him”
“I didn’t want to fail and have another failed marriage”
I am very much looking forward to cross examination next week. I stand with Johnny. Men can be victims. Celebrities can be victims. Abuse doesn’t discriminate.