A psychologist hired by Amber Heard's legal team testified Tuesday that she believes Heard has PTSD from the intimate partner violence she experienced during her marriage and pushed back against the previous testimony of a psychologist hired by Johnny Depp's team.
Dawn Hughes, a forensic psychologist who conducted an evaluation of Heard after spending about 29 hours with her in late 2019 and early 2021, told the court she did not believe that Heard has borderline personality disorder or histrionic personality disorder, which had been the determinations of Shannon Curry, the psychologist who was previously called to the stand by Depp's attorneys. Based on Hughes' interview, testing, and review of documents, medical records, and recordings, she said she believed that Heard had experienced intimate partner violence from Depp and demonstrated "very clear psychological, traumatic effects."
Depp is suing Heard, his ex-wife, for defamation for a Washington Post op-ed she wrote in 2018, in which she said she is the victim of domestic violence. Even though Depp wasn't named in the op-ed, he testified that the implication that he abused Heard, which he denies doing, hurt his career. After Depp's lawyers finished calling their witnesses on Tuesday, Heard's team tried to get the case thrown out for lack of evidence, but the judge denied that request.
On Tuesday, Hughes said Heard reported several acts of physical violence from Depp, including him pushing her, shoving her, slapping her, choking her, and kicking her. Heard also reported bruising, cuts, and vaginal pain from sexual assaults, Hughes said. In addition to reported physical abuse, Hughes said there were many instances of Depp trying to control Heard's career. Hughes said Depp didn't want Heard to show nudity on camera, didn't want her to act with certain actors because of "his obsessive jealousy," and he criticized her ambition. Hughes said Depp called almost every male and female actor Heard worked with and said he had eyes on set.
"She never felt safe to be an actress in these films or productions because she would have to come home and then endure his anger at her for doing something or not doing something," Hughes testified.
Hughes said she does believe that Depp would leave the room at times when he didn't want to be violent, which is how the actor testified he reacted to conflict in the marriage. But his obsessiveness would mean the fight "would always come back," Hughes continued.
Hughes said Heard reported acts of sexual violence to Bonnie Jacobs, Heard's therapist from October 2011 to August 2014. When Depp was drunk or high, he threw Heard on the bed and ripped off her nightgown and had sex with her, Hughes said. He also forced her to give him oral sex, Hughes said.
"These weren't in loving moments," Hughes said. "These were angry moments. Moments of dominance, moments of him trying to get control over her."
In one instance, Hughes said Depp performed a "cavity search" on Heard, where he ripped off her nightgown and stuck his fingers up her vagina, looking for cocaine. Hughes also said that during a trip to Australia, Depp penetrated Heard with a bottle. Heard reported to Hughes that she dissociated during the alleged incident and the "only thing she was thinking was, 'Oh, god, I hope it's not the broken one,'" Hughes said.
Hughes said there was psychological abuse in the marriage that Heard engaged in as well. Heard reported to Hughes that she called Depp "horrible names" and that Depp called her "whore," "slut," "cunt," and "lesbian camp counselor." But the psychologist said that even though Heard engaged in acts of psychological and physical abuse, she did not believe Heard was a perpetrator of intimate partner violence.
Heard's attorney asked Hughes how she had corroborated the reported incidents, and Hughes offered the example during a 2014 incident when Depp allegedly kicked Heard in the back after accusing her of having an affair with actor James Franco. Hughes said she corroborated the event because Heard told several friends about it after it happened. Depp also testified in a previous UK defamation trial that he "lightly tapped" Heard in the back. Hughes said that was the only example she could think of.
Based on her evaluation, Hughes said she did not find that Heard was exaggerating any of her symptoms, something described by the psychologist hired by Depp, and Hughes added she disagreed with the method used in that assessment.
Hughes said her evaluation found that there was a "high degree of serious violence" perpetrated by Depp toward Heard, while Heard perpetrated "mild" violence toward Depp. Hughes said Depp engaged in "more severe" acts of psychological aggression, while Heard engaged in "mild" acts. Hughes also said Heard was subjected to sexual violence and Depp, based on Heard's reports, was subjected to none.
Hughes also noted that Heard was physically abused by her father and Heard's father had abused her mother.
"She had learned from a very early age how to care take, how to live in a situation that is mired in chaos, how to take care of a parent that is passed out, nodded out from heroin," Hughes said.
"She learned she could love someone who hurts her," Hughes continued. "She knew that people who hurt her also can love her."