Case study in abuse: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Africanfinestmums blog post - Johnny Depp and Amber Heard case study


I am intrigued by this case, and the recent developments. Have you been following the story of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard? Here you have a couple, who seemingly had it all – money, fame, looks, the world at their feet. Fairytale huh? Nope, try nightmare end with allegations of abuse, within 2 years of getting married.  Following is my brief sum up.

And the abuser is Johnny…….

Amber filed for divorce in May 2016 (3 days after Johnny’s mum died), and their divorce was finalised on the 13th of January 2017.  Between that time, during their divorce proceedings and till date Amber alleged that Johnny was physically abusive to her, citing several specific instances of being punched, had items thrown at her, yelled at, hair pulled etc. She provided pictures of the alleged abuse, and stated her case in court documents. The evidence looked damning, and the combination of his drinking problems, quirky character, and his gender in this case didn’t help him. Fans and onlookers were aghast that a beloved filmstar Johnny Depp – from Edward Scissorhands, to Alice in Wonderland, to the beloved Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise – could be an abusive person. At first glance it was easier and more popular to believe him as the abuser.  She presented herself as generous, not caring about money, only justice, even pledging to donate her settlement from the divorce ($7 million dollars) to charities supporting causes she was passionate about, including those helping women who had suffered abuse.


Africanfinestmums blog post - Johnny and Amber

Her allegations were in the wake of the #Metoo movement, and she soon became a poster child for the movement.   Amber continued to gain momentum as a spokeswoman for abused women, even becoming an ambassador for United Nations human rights initiative advocating for protection of women and children. She was the little woman taking on the big bad world. “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath,” she wrote in her op-ed in the Washington Post in December 2018.


On the wings of the media frenzy and furore, Johnny’s star fell.  Johnny strongly denied the allegations, but that didn’t seem to matter. The media and tabloids jumped on the story, and Johnny’s public image was severely tarnished. With words like “wife beater” and “domestic abuser” tagged to him, he lost out on lucrative film deals, including being let go from his iconic character role as Jack Sparrow.   Amber’s star on the other hand was rising.  On the back of her increasing notoriety from her involvement with Johnny, she moved from relatively known actress to win her first major lead in Aquaman in 2018.       

And the abuser is ……Amber????

Everything seemed to be going Amber’s way, until the recent surface of the leaked audio tapes of the couple taken whilst they were married. The audio was recorded by Amber reportedly as part of their counselling efforts to work on their shaky marriage. The recordings have been eye opening to say the least, and have turned the whole story upside down.  

[arve url=”” title=”Amber Heard arguing with Johnny Depp – Scott Reisch” duration=”46:42″ /]

The content of the recording in my view is pretty damning evidence that Amber, not Johnny as she has staunchly claimed all this while, is the abuser.  The exchange between them is riddled with 3 hallmarks of someone who has narcissistic personality disorder at worst, or in the least is a very toxic individual.

  • gaslighting (manipulate someone by psychological means into doubting their own sanity),
  • projection (the mental process by which people attribute to others what is in their own minds),
  • manipulation (is a type of social influence that aims to change the behavior or perception of others through indirect, deceptive, or underhanded tactics) 

Africanfinestmums blog post - Johnny and Amber

Amber also admits in the recording, to physically attacking Johnny, but then tries to manipulate him by downplaying and dismissing what she has done.  Throughout the exchange she hardly lets him get a word in edgeways, and whenever he does, she uses one of the above tactics to completely disregard his viewpoint or feelings, in favour of hers alone, even when her argument is not at all reasonable.  She twists matters of fact, deflects from answering direct questions, and goes into what sounds like a manic state when he stands his ground, and doesn’t accept whatever picture she’s trying desperately to paint for him to believe. It is painful to hear.  In my view, she comes out of this, clearly the oppressor, not Johnny. More reports are now coming out of the woodwork in the wake of these recordings, and also from the $50 defamation lawsuit Johnny has against Amber for her Washington Post op-ed, and also libel case against The Sun for defamation over an article they posted last year about Johnny’s alleged abuse of Amber. Together with these leaked recordings, the evidence now appears heavily stacked against Amber.  I am so glad this recording was leaked, otherwise she might have gotten away with this gross injustice against Johnny.

What makes this particularly painful is that she has gone to great lengths to accuse and smear Johnny publicly of what she had been doing to him all along. Her challenge to him, that “no one would believe him” because he was a man and she a woman was sadly true for a while. I am disgusted that she would seek to benefit from the #Metoo movement and similar causes that are fighting for an end to domestic abuse, when she in fact appears to be the perpetrator.  It is a slap in the face for every person who genuinely has suffered domestic violence and abuse, and wasn’t believed, but instead was further victimised by deliberate smear campaigns from their abuser. #Justicefor JohnnyDepp is trending and it is my hope that Amber Heard is held accountable for abuse and deliberate attempt to destroy Johnny’s reputation and career.  She should not get away with this.


Key lessons

Africanfinestmums blog post - Johnny and Amber

  1. Don’t judge things on the surface.  Dig deeper, ask questions. Just because someone is louder doesn’t make them right.  Sometimes the best way to catch an abuser is for a victim to stay consistent in their truth, and let the abuser dig themselves into their own hole. 
  2. Abusers spin a good tale, but beware of the many holes in their stories. Look for the holes and don’t excuse them, instead investigate, and don’t ignore past trends (Amber has a history of being abusive, Johnny doesn’t).
  3. Narcissistic abuse is very real, and more prevalent than we give it credit for. A lot of the abuse is emotional and psychological, and done in such a way that outsiders can’t see the abuse happening behind closed doors. Most narcissistic abusers are wolves in sheep clothing, and are very good at masking their abuse. People are dying from this in plain sight, while the world seemingly looks on and smiles. 
  4. Gaslighting, pathological lying, playing the victim, consistently breaking boundaries, lack of empathy, never accepting blame or fault even when it is obvious, are some of the serious red flags of a person who has narcissistic personality disorder or strong narcissistic traits. Know the signs, and take swift action to address them, not excuse them. Life after narcissistic abuse – Overcoming
  5. Men get abused too, and it should not be minimised or deemed as not important. Statistics show that majority are perpetrated by men against women, and yes it needs addressing, but just because a woman is physically smaller does not excuse her abuse against a man.
  6. Regardless of gender, the damage and negative impact of abuse is very real, and destroys lives.  It is not a pretty subject at all, but the negative impact on individuals, families and communities in present and future generations is huge, and will reach epidemic proportions if not addressed seriously.
  7. Abusers need to be held accountable for the hurt and pain they cause others.  If more were held accountable, maybe more would desist from their destructive behaviours. 


What are your thoughts on this?  Please comment, like or share this post.

If you suspect you are the victim of narcissistic abuse, don’t suffer in silence, please seek help.  You can email us in confidence at [email protected] if you would like to discuss any issues or concerns about this post.