• Gabrielle Hendricks

Defamation and Toxicity in the Depp-Heard Trial

On Apr. 11, the defamation trial between the ex-spouses Johnny Depp and Amber Heard began. Footage of the trial and released legal documents have revealed appalling information about the two actors’ relationship. Allegations of physical, verbal and emotional abuse have come from both parties. Despite both having deplorable characters, Heard is more guilty and the master manipulator of their past relationship.


Depp is suing Heard for defamation over allegations of domestic violence. The two were married from 2015-2017, Heard filed for divorce in 2016 along with submitting a restraining order against Depp for domestic violence. Heard’s allegation of abuse cost Depp his reputation as the public ridiculed and canceled him. He was also dismissed by Disney for the sixth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series due to the allegation. Depp suffered great emotional and financial distress from Heard’s claim, especially since she filed the divorce and restraining order the week his mother passed away.


Depp filed a $50 million lawsuit in 2019 against Heard for defamation of character over an article she wrote to the Washington Post. The current trial in Fairfax Va. (headquarter location of the Washington Post) is a result of the alleged defamation in the article.


The public is on Depp’s side in the trial, as recordings of Heard admitting to physically harming him have surfaced in the trial. Despite Heard’s egregious behavior, Depp has faults too in their marriage. Abhorrent text messages of Depp texting his friends of how he wishes to harm Heard were revealed in court. Depp admitted to texting all the messages. One explicit message read, “I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.” The vulgar language and horrifying ways to describe how he wanted to harm her shows that he does not have the most innocent character. Depp’s past drug abuse and alcoholism may have played into these texts, but it shows he had behavioral issues. Depp also wrote in blood on the wall while experiencing as what he described as a “nervous breakdown” after Heard threw a vodka bottle at him, severing the tip of his right middle finger. Video footage of Depp punching cabinets in front of Heard was also featured in court. None of this behavior is normal and could be classified as intimidation or emotional abuse. Heard’s actions towards Depp, however, elicited these rash reactions.


From the beginning of their relationship Heard has been said to repeatedly ridicule and verbally abuse Depp according to those who testified. Depp’s own children also disapproved of Heard, his daughter Lily-Rose Depp refused to attend their wedding. Depp and other witnesses claim that further into their marriage, Heard’s abuse escalated into physical violence. She threw pots, pans, remotes and other items at Depp. She has allegedly punched and harassed him until he had to lock himself in various rooms of their home. Heard’s actions are more severe and corrupt than Depp’s, as his non-contact reactions to abuse does not equate to perpetrated physical abuse.


Depp has been gaslit and taken advantage of by Heard. Abusers typically target those who are vulnerable. Heard targeted a man who was abused as a child (by his mother) and struggles from alcoholism and drug addiction. Heard took advantage of the public as well by defaming Depp at the height of the Me-Too movement. Believe all women was popular rhetoric at the time of her alleging abuse and the public and companies did so. Luckily, times have changed, and the abuse of men has been placed in the spotlight. Recordings due to technology have also revealed Heard’s undeniably manipulative personality. Depp deserves justice from the court and an apology from the public. This trial is a lesson to the world that anyone can be a victim of abuse.