Johnny Depp Amber Heard Trial: Experts Dispute Idea of 'Mutual Abuse'

johnny depp amber heard abuse trial
credit: Andrea Raffin/

Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard is well underway and it’s been informative, to say the least.

Johnny was the first to take the stand last week and used the opportunity to paint Amber as a mutual aggressor, claiming that she abused him just as much as he did her.

His evidence included a voice recording of Amber in which she admits to hitting Johnny.

His lawyers are pushing the narrative of “mutual abuse”, a term used by their expert witness aka the exes’ former marriage therapist. Their therapist claims that both Johnny and Amber abused each other equally and neither was the primary aggressor.

According to Laurel Anderson, the therapist in question, Amber “gave as good as she got”.

However, under cross-examination, Laurel admitted that Amber only claimed to “fight back” in self-defense, which is supported by Amber’s court filings in which Amber claims she only ever physically assaulted Johnny in self-defense or in defense of her sister.

Now, several experts are speaking out against the idea of “mutual abuse”, which many readily call a myth.

Numerous experts claimed that mutual abuse in intimate partner violence is impossible as abuse is based on an imbalanced power dynamic. In other words, there is always a primary abuser.

The CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), Ruth Glenn, told NBC News,

“I don’t believe in mutual abuse. I don’t believe that two parties decide to meet in the kitchen and box it out. It just doesn’t sound right, reactive abuse. I’m going to abuse you as a reaction? No, I’m going to defend myself as a reaction.”

She went on to explain that what can look like “abuse” perpetrated by the victim is often, in actuality, self-defense.

According to an article written by Dr. Betsy Usher, a psychotherapist specializing in abuse and trauma,

“Abuse is about power and control. In an abusive relationship, only one person has power and control. Both people can’t have equal power and control; someone holds it and craves it. The person who has power and control manipulates the victim into 1), getting pushed to their limit so they react back, and 2), believing they are also an abuser (blame-shifting).”

A blog post on the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website reiterates this sentiment and explains that the idea of “mutual abuse” is often perpetuated by the abuser as a way to manipulate and victim-blame.

Obviously, it is impossible to know what goes on between two people behind closed doors, but based on what we know so far, it sounds like Johnny was the primary abuser.

Amber has asserted that any time she fought back was in defense of herself or her sister.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s trial is expected to take a total of five weeks. Amber is expected to take the stand next to tell her side of the story.


A Timeline of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Relationship, Abuse Allegations, and Defamation Trial

Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.