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Amber Heard felt ‘less than human’ during trial and was in ‘ugly beautiful’ relationship

‘I took the stand and saw just a courtroom packed full of Captain Jack Sparrow fans’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 14 June 2022 15:15 BST
Amber Heard says she felt ‘less than human’ during trial

Amber Heard has told Savannah Guthrie of NBC News that she felt “less than human” during her defamation trial against ex-husband Johnny Depp.

“Every single day I passed, for three, four, sometimes six blocks, city blocks with people holding signs saying ‘burn the witch’, ‘death to Amber’. After three and a half weeks, I took the stand and saw just a courtroom packed full of Captain Jack Sparrow fans, who were vocal, energised,” Ms Heard said.

“Can you put into words how that felt?” Ms Guthrie asked.

“This was the most humiliating and horrible thing I’ve ever been through. I have never felt more removed from my own humanity,” Ms Heard said. “I felt less than human.”

When asked if she stands by what she said from the witness stand, she said, “to my dying day, I’ll stand by every word of my testimony”.

A week after the announcement of the verdict, Ms Heard told NBC that it’s been hard to allow the ruling to fully sink in.

“How could it? It’s surreal and difficult. In part, yes. This has been a long time coming,” Ms Heard said.

The trial lasted six weeks and went into detail regarding their chaotic marriage. On social media, many posts were made in support of Mr Depp.

“I think [the] vast majority of this trial was played out on social media. I think that this trial is an example of that gone haywire, gone amok. And the jury’s not immune to that,” Ms Heard said, adding that she thinks the jury saw some of the social media content.

“How could they not? I think even the most well-intentioned juror, it would’ve been impossible to avoid this,” she said, but added that she doesn’t blame the jury for their verdict.

“I don’t blame them. I actually understand. He’s a beloved character and people feel they know him. He’s a fantastic actor,” Ms Heard said.

Depp lawyer Ben Chew previously told ABC News: “My view is that social media played no role whatsoever. This was a decision made by the jury on the evidence presented by both sides.”

He added that the evidence “was overwhelmingly in Mr Depp’s favour”.

Ms Heard told NBC that she spoke the truth in the courtroom.

“That’s all I spoke. And I spoke it to power, and I paid the price,” she said.

Regarding claims that she was the instigator of domestic abuse in the marriage, Ms Heard said, “I never had to instigate it. I responded to it. When you’re living in violence and it becomes normal, as I testified to, you have to adapt”.

Ms Guthrie asked if it was a lie that Mr Depp had never struck Ms Heard.

“Yes it is,” she said, adding that she left the relationship.

“I have so much regret,” she said.

“I did do and say horrible, regrettable things throughout my relationship. I behaved in horrible – almost unrecognizable to myself ways,” she added.

“I freely and openly and voluntarily talked about what I did. I talked about the horrible language. I talked about being pushed to the extent where I didn’t even know the difference between right and wrong,” Ms Heard said.

“I will always continue to feel like I was a part of this, like I was the other half of this relationship because I was. And it was ugly and could be very beautiful. It was very, very toxic. We were awful to each other. I made a lot of mistakes, a lot of mistakes, but I’ve always told the truth,” she added.

A jury handed down the verdict on 1 June, awarding Mr Depp $10m in compensatory damages and $5m in punitive damages following Ms Heard’s 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post, in which she claimed to be a domestic abuse survivor.

The trial began on Monday 11 April in Fairfax, Virginia following Mr Depp’s March 2019 lawsuit. Mr Depp argued that Ms Heard defamed him in the op-ed titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.

Ms Heard wrote that “like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim”.

“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she added at the time.

While Mr Depp wasn’t named in the piece, his legal team argued that it contained a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they said was “categorically and demonstrably false”.

Mr Depp was awarded $10.35m in damages in total because Virginia state law caps punitive damages at $350,000. Ms Heard was awarded $2m in compensatory damages because of comments made by Mr Depp’s previous lawyer.

More of NBC’s interview with Ms Heard will be broadcast on Dateline on Friday at 8pm ET.

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