Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's Former Marriage Counselor Recalls 'Mutual Abuse' Between Them

In testimony played Thursday during Johnny Depp's defamation trial against Amber Heard, Dr. Laurel Anderson recalled meeting with the former couple back in 2015

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's former marriage counselor said the pair engaged in "mutual abuse" over the course of their marriage.

On Thursday, Dr. Laurel Anderson's deposition that was recorded on Feb. 21 was played for the courtroom in Fairfax, Virginia, as Depp sues ex-wife Heard for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she wrote about surviving domestic violence. The Los Angeles–based therapist recalled marriage counseling she led with Depp and Heard back in 2015.

When asked if there was "violence from Mr. Depp toward Amber," Anderson replied, "Yes, you're right. He had been well controlled, I think, for almost, I don't know, 20, 30 years. Both were victims of abuse in their homes, but I thought he had been well controlled for decades. And then with Ms. Heard he was triggered, and they engaged in what I saw as mutual abuse."

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She continued, claiming that Heard would sometimes initiate the fights in order to "keep him with her" because "abandonment was her worst nightmare."

Anderson said Heard once told her that it was "a point of pride to her if she felt disrespected to initiate a fight." She recalled that Heard reported to her, "If [Depp] were going to leave her to deescalate the fight, she would strike him to keep him there because she would rather be in a fight than have him leave."

Anderson said she also observed "multiple" small bruises on Heard's face at an in-person meeting.

Depp, 58, is suing his Heard, 35, for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post, though she never mentioned Depp by name in the article. During opening statements Tuesday, Heard's attorney Ben Rottenborn said evidence will show she suffered domestic abuse by Depp that "took many forms," including physical, emotional, verbal and psychological, as well as "sexual violence at the hands of Depp." A spokesperson for Depp denies the allegation as "fictitious."

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The pair, who met making the 2011 movie The Rum Diary, broke up in May 2016, when Heard sought a domestic violence restraining order against him, accusing him of abusing her. Depp denied the claims, and the former couple settled their divorce out of court in August 2016.

Depp originally filed the $50 million lawsuit in March 2019, but it was postponed due to the pandemic.

Back in November 2020, Depp lost his highly publicized U.K. libel lawsuit case against British tabloid The Sun for calling him a "wife-beater." The court upheld the outlet's claims as being "substantially true" and Heard testified to back up the claims. In March 2021, his attempt to overturn the decision was overruled.

Johnny Depp Amber Heard
Johnny Depp (L); Amber Heard. Marc Piasecki/WireImage; Phillip Faraone/Getty

On Saturday, Heard wrote on Instagram that she will be avoiding social media until after the trial, thanking her followers for their support.

She said, in part, "Hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny. I have always maintained a love for Johnny and it brings me great pain to have to live out the details of our past life together in front of the world."

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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