Johnny Depp Says He Stayed in Amber Heard Marriage 'Because My Father Stayed' in His

Johnny Depp and his sister both testified about how their mother was abusive toward their father, who stayed for many years before leaving her unannounced

Johnny Depp says he stayed in his tumultuous relationship with Amber Heard, before she sought a domestic violence restraining order against him, because he "wanted to try to make it work."

While continuing his witness testimony in Fairfax, Virginia Wednesday morning, Depp, 58, said that Heard, 35, would "strike out" at him in "her frustration and in her rage": "It could begin with a slap, it could begin with a shove, it could begin with throwing a TV remote at my head...," he said, alleging that her behavior became "constant" during their arguments.

"There was no need for it. Too many lines were crossed; you couldn't see the lines anymore," said Depp.

When asked by his lawyer why he didn't leave Heard at the time of the alleged abuse, Depp — who said he'd learned to "pick your battles" — said that it was a "complicated answer." He recalled thinking, "No one can live like this."

"Why did I stay? I suppose because my father stayed [in his abusive marriage]. ... And I didn't want to fail. I wanted to try to make it work. I thought maybe I could help her. I thought maybe I could bring her around. Because the Amber Heard that I knew for the first year, year and a half was not this, suddenly this opponent. It wasn't my girl, she had become my opponent," he said.

For more on Johnny Depp's defamation trial against Amber Heard, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Depp was previously married to Lori Anne Allison from 1983 to 1985 and was in a long-term relationship with actress Vanessa Paradis, who he has two children with: Lily-Rose Depp and Jack Depp.

Both Depp and his older sister Christi Dembrowski have testified about their late mother being abusive in their childhood, including toward their father, who they say did not fight back. After staying in the marriage for years, their father eventually packed his bags and left unannounced one day, according to Depp.

Johnny Depp

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

On Tuesday, Depp called his dad John Sr., now 84, a "very kind," "quiet" and "shy" man, and "not a confrontational person in any way."

The actor continued, "And when Betty Sue, my mother, would go off on a tangent toward my father — and of course, in front of the kids, it [didn't] matter to her — he, amazingly, remained very stoic and never, as she was rationing him with horrible things, he stood there and just looked at her while she delivered the pain, and he swallowed it. He took it."

Johnny Depp

Depp also testified yesterday: "Never did I myself reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way, nor have I ever struck any woman in my life."

The actor is suing Heard for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post about surviving domestic violence, though she never mentioned Depp by name in the article. Depp originally filed the $50 million lawsuit in March 2019.

Heard has not yet taken the stand in this court case. During opening statements last week, her 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."

When discussing the headline used for the online version of Heard's op-ed, the attorney explained that she did not write that headline herself or get to approve it. It read: "Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change." However, the attorney claimed Heard has indeed been the victim of sexual violence by Depp.

About the headline, "tragically, it's true," Rottenborn told the courtroom. "Amber did suffer sexual violence at the hands of Depp. ... You will hear in the most graphic and horrifying terms about the violence that she suffered. You'll hear that straight from her. She will get on the stand and she will tell you that. It happened."

Shortly after, Rottenborn listed a time when Depp allegedly had a three-day, alcohol-fueled blackout while in Australia in 2015 toward the end of their marriage, when Depp "abused and sexually assaulted Amber, all because she had the courage to confront him about his drinking."

Amber Heard

Heard and Depp, who met while making the 2011 movie The Rum Diary and wed in 2015, 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.

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.

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.

Related Articles