Johnny Depp accused his former wife, Amber Heard, of instigating fights to satisfy a need for conflict as he resumed his testimony Wednesday morning in the trial of the defamation lawsuit he filed against her.
Depp is suing Heard for over an essay she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she said she had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Although the article never mentions Depp by name, his attorneys said it indirectly refers to allegations she made against him during their 2016 divorce.
During his morning testimony, Depp alleged that Heard was in fact the instigator of their arguments and occasionally escalated their fights to physical violence.
“It was not meant to help the relationship it was meant to feed her need for conflict,” Depp said. “She has a need for conflict, she has a need for violence. It erupts out of nowhere.”
According to Depp’s account of their relationship, Heard would pick fights and escalate them with demeaning language. He also said that she would sometimes “strike out” whether it was a slap or a shove or throwing an object in his direction.
“It’s hard to explain but the argument would start here but it would roll around and become this circular thing of its own,” Depp said. “You’d get back to the beginning … now it’s heightened even more and it’s still circular, there’s no way in or out.”
In court filings before the trial, Heard said she hit Depp only in self-defense or in defense of her younger sister, according to The New York Times.
In a call back to his testimony from Tuesday, Depp said he would often be the one to walk away from their arguments because it was a strategy he learned as a youth. He told the court the day prior that his mother was physically and verbally abusive, and this father would often sit through it calmly until he eventually left his wife when Depp was a teen.
The trial in Fairfax County, Virginia, is expected to take weeks. A Fairfax judge ruled in 2019 that Depp was within his rights to bring the case there because The Washington Post’s online editions are published through servers in the county.
Depp’s testimony on Wednesday was paused for a morning recess, after which Heard’s attorneys are expected to begin cross examination.
Heard was granted a protective order in May 2016 after she alleged that Depp hit her in the face with a cellphone. She presented evidence to the court — a photo of a bruise to her face — and claimed he pulled her hair, screamed at her and hit her repeatedly.
“During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny Depp has been verbally and physically abusive to me,” Heard said in a sworn declaration at the time.
She also said she lived in fear of Depp, saying he had a “short fuse” and terrorized her.
Depp has denied the allegations, saying that he never became “out of control.”
Diana Dasrath contributed.