Firstly, as most of the court reporting has been done by journalists covering the Showbiz pages it’s a celebrity circus.
Secondly, as it’s a libel trial the points of law are focused on the publication of an article on The Sun’s website in April 2018, which ran with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
The Sun claims Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs”.
Johnny Depp contends the allegations are “complete lies” and says the article made “defamatory allegations of the utmost seriousness”, amounting to a “full-scale attack”.
A separate libel claim brought by Depp against Heard in the US, over a column in the Washington Post published in 2018 – which said the actress received “the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out”, but did not mention the Depp by name – is due to begin in January.
Finally, from a family lawyer’s perspective, what’s to be made of what we have so far heard?
Had Amber Heard approached this firm filing for a divorce – based on Depp’s evidence alone last week (Heard gives evidence this week) – let’s take at face value all his denials of physical abuse.
There seems to me to be clear evidence of emotional abuse.
Emotional abuse is now clearly recognised as a criminal offence (and as an example of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ proving that a marriage has broken down irretrievably), as I wrote here, in 2018. From my experience the primary difficulty experienced by clients who have suffered emotional abuse at the hands of their partner, is deciding at what point “enough is enough”.
Many clients have endured this kind of behaviour for years, and their reasons for doing so are often perfectly understandable. Some of these may be: they believe this is “normal” behaviour, or they think it will improve; they want to do the best for their children or because they are fearful of what the consequences of change might be.
Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse and is often difficult to recognise. The problem with trying to define accurately what constitutes emotional abuse is undoubtedly because there is a subjective element to it.
Objectively, one party may be experiencing emotional abuse if he or she is:
• often left humiliated by something their partner has said or done
• unable to express disagreement with their partner without being subjected to criticism and ridicule
• constantly being told by their partner that they are worthless or inadequate
• made to feel guilty for no good reason
Amber Heard and her witnesses take to the stand this week. Now you know what Emotional Abuse is, whose story do you think rings true? The Sun, or Johnny Depp?
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The above is accurate as at 13 July 2020. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.