Johnny Depp-Amber Heard Therapist Says Couple Engaged In 'Mutual Abuse,' Saw Bruises on Actress' Face

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard‘s defamation trial continued Thursday in Fairfax, Virginia — with Dr Laurel Anderson, the couple’s onetime therapist, appearing via a pre-recorded deposition.

Depp is seeking $50 million in damages after Heard claimed she was a survivor of domestic abuse in an op-ed in the Washington Post in 2018. While she didn’t name Depp in the piece, his lawyers argue it was implied to be about him and negatively affected his career. She countersued Depp for $100 million.

Anderson had several in-person sessions with both parties — together and separately — with each of them threatening to walk out. According to emails shown during the deposition, a friend of Heard’s reached out to Anderson in March 2015 about therapy for them both. This would be around the same time Heard claimed she was in a “three-day hostage” situation with Depp. The former couple wouldn’t sit down with Anderson until October.

She said that Depp had difficulty “having a voice” in their sessions together, saying Heard “had a jackhammer style of talking.” She described Amber as “very amped up. She had trouble talking at a similar pace. He was cut off a lot. This is how he didn’t have a voice. He couldn’t keep up with her rapid fire way of conversation. He was really overwhelmed.”

While Heard reported physical violence from Depp, the actor was never present at sessions where she made those claims. However, when asked whether it was her testimony that “while Mr. Depp may have said he wasn’t violent with any of his other partners, there was violence from Mr. Depp toward Amber,” Anderson said yes.

“He had been well controlled I think for almost 20-30 years and both were victims of abuse in their homes but I felt he had been well controlled for decades,” she continued. “With Ms. Heard he was triggered and they engaged in what I saw as mutual abuse. I know she led on more than one occasion and started it to keep him with her because abandonment and having him leave was her worst nightmare and I think he may have initiated it on occasions too. That I’m less sure of.”

Anderson said Amber reported she did abuse Depp, saying “it was a point of pride to her, if she felt disrespected, to initiate a fight.” She said Heard would also “strike” Depp to keep him from leaving whenever he tried to “de-escalate” a fight, adding Heard “would rather be in a fight than have him leave.”

Going over her notes from their first session — in which the two voiced how mean they were to one another — Heard claimed Depp said things to her like, “No one likes you, you’re getting fame from me, I’m falling out of love with you, you’re a whore.” Anderson claimed the two didn’t communicate well and “had terrible skills” in that department overall.

Anderson said Heard would sometimes hit Depp first when she felt “triggered,” thanks to her history of abuse from her father. “She was sensitive to feeling disrespected and if she felt disrespected, she had come out of her background history feeling that her pride needed to dominate and she needed to stand up for herself,” she explained.

She went on to say the two described incidents in which she slapped Depp when he was “f—ed up … incoherent and talking about being with another woman.”

According to Anderson, Heard “wanted to want to divorce Depp,” but didn’t because they still loved each other. “She believed she wasn’t stupid, she knew that what they were doing wasn’t healthy … she was trying to figure out what to do,” added the therapist.

Anderson also testified that she saw “bruising” on Heard’s face in person in December 2015, after first seeing photos. “What I recall is not purple, green and blue but just a darkening. A darker gray-blue sort of thing,” she said, pointing to the areas around her eyes. “But I don’t have a photo of it, I don’t remember that well.”

In a 2016 solo session with Depp, she said that while reflecting on the relationship — which was basically over at that point — he characterized it as “chaotic, violent” and said Heard “gave as good as she got.”

“I agreed. She initiated fights. She started violence. She rose to the challenge if he started first,” said Anderson. “In my opinion, that had been established throughout the relationship, that she fought as hard as he did. And he tried to deescalate far more than I think she did.”

See more coverage of the ongoing trial here.

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