Opinion: Amber Heard Truth or Lies

Colleen Sheehy Orme

This is not a hater's article. Amber Heard doesn't deserve online malice. This is a discussion. People can offer their point of view on Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard without bullying.

That being said, I find Amber Heard difficult to believe.

I write about relationships and abuse.

The eight points listed below are my personal opinion after watching much of the trial.

As a marketer, I must have the ability to see beyond the obvious, connect the dots, and understand human behavior. As a journalist, former business columnist, and relationship columnist I must look at the facts. I have spent more than a decade in the counseling and research of relationships, marriage, and divorce. I took all of these things into consideration.

1. Accountability

Dirty laundry was aired by Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

This relationship had toxically digressed. There's no denying the behavior here. The question is who was the abuser? And did one or the other behave badly in reaction to the abuse? Or was it mutual abuse? Mutual abuse is a term Laurel Anderson, a clinical psychologist, and Depp and Heard's marriage counselor used during her testimony.

This terminology created an uproar. Many challenge the concept of mutual abuse in favor of reactive abuse. Reactive abuse is an individual's poor response to an abuser. I too, am with the majority and believe strongly in reactive abuse, not mutual abuse.

Dr. Anderson testified that Depp said he had no history of physical abuse with any other partner. Her assessment was that he had been "Well-controlled for decades." This is where she lost me. It's not even logical. A man could control himself until he is in his fifties? This actually speaks to the likelihood that Depp was the victim of abuse and his behavior was likely reactive abuse. Not physically reactive abuse but name-calling, texting, etc. was in response to Heard's abusive behavior.

It has been said that Johnny Depp is not accountable for his behavior. This would be consistent with someone who has an addiction. Power would only add to the equation.

Yet when questioned Johnny Depp showed the ability to take accountability with the exception of a few instances. Amber Heard overwhelmingly lacked the ability to be accountable. Even when she was directly caught in a lie. It made her less credible. And his testimony by and large seemed to have a larger degree of authenticity.

2. Emotion

Is it possible to cry without tears? And instead, just keep wiping your nose? Not likely. Heard's own acting coach said Heard was unable to elicit tears while portraying this emotion.

Let's be realistic. Who wouldn't cry through this experience? At least a few times. Supposed abuse, coupled with the courtroom, coupled with publicity. And the manner of helplessness and trauma that accompanies any degree of extended abuse. The inability to cry made it difficult to believe Heard experienced abuse.

Heard appeared scripted at times, almost poised, and consistently turned to the jury in an orchestrated manner. Repeating the same things over and over which did give the feel of a performance. Not a trauma victim.

3. Personality disorders and mental health

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's mental health was discussed. Evidence was presented by doctors who treated them as well as expert witnesses. Depp's prior medical records from his personal physician Dr. Kipper, indicated ADHD, Bipolar One, Depression, insomnia, and chronic substance abuse.

Dr. Shannon Curry, a clinical and forensic psychologist was one of Depp's witnesses. She evaluated Amber Heard and suggested she may suffer from several personality disorders, borderline personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder.

Dr. Curry based this on prior psychiatric evaluations, testing, and two separate evaluations she conducted of Amber Heard. Whether Heard does or doesn't suffer from a personality disorder is for the doctors and not me to ascertain.

However, those with personality disorders are capable of manipulation, lying, and destroying others.

To the average individual, it doesn't seem believable. Those of us who have unknowingly attached ourselves to someone with a personality disorder understand the truth. This is an individual who will seek to destroy a person who they believe has wronged them. Not because they have actually been wronged.

But because a person chooses to leave or divorce them.

They will use, confuse, and abuse to achieve the outcome they desire.

It's a punishing personality who will stop at nothing to achieve retribution. Albeit their distorted version of the truth. But many of those with personality disorders don't live in reality. They live in their version of reality. This is why their lies are believable to the average individual. Because in their own minds they believe they've been wronged. And therefore, they believe the person they are seeking to take down deserves it.

It's their justification for destroying another individual.

Whether or not Amber Heard has a personality disorder, the manner in which she maneuvered her testimony and cross-examination illustrated something appeared off. Everyone else was wrong. Or not telling the truth. Or trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame. Or being paid by Johnny Depp. Or on the Johnny Depp fan wagon.

Even when faced with facts, reality, or contradictions, she seemed unable to accept them.

4. Manipulation

The testimony of the TMZ employee indicates manipulation.

Amber Heard did not appear to want to protect Johnny Heard as she had testified. Nor did it look as though she wanted a divorce with little or nothing in exchange. She was seemingly calculated and provided information to TMZ. A video that was shortened in length to show Johnny Depp slamming cabinets. Not the full version of her appearing in and taking the video.

Alerting TMZ of a courthouse trip to obtain a restraining order against Johnny Depp and telling them which side of her face to take a picture of. What's interesting is that Heard repeatedly claims no one could see bruising because she covered it with makeup even when it appeared she was makeup-free. Though on this day she wore no makeup.

Only to be seen the next day with no apparent bruising on her face.

She said she would donate the seven million dollar divorce settlement and did not. This explanation gets complicated. Amber Heard used many excuses. Pledge and donate mean the same things. She wanted to spread out the tax advantages. She had legal fees. But she didn't have attorney fees the first year and donated a minimal amount. And was extremely vocal about having donated the seven million dollars and not wanting the money.

5. Evidence

Amber Heard repeatedly alluded to a mountain of evidence.

Not all abuse victims will seek medical help but there was little to no evidence she had been physically harmed. The one photo showed different lighting in two versions of the same picture. One made it appear there was a significant mark and the other not. Heard said it was because she changed the lighting in the room before she snapped the second pic.

A metadata expert for Depp testified the photo had been altered. Even if you chose not to believe his testimony it would be hard not to.

It would be impossible to move long enough to change the lighting in a room and the second photograph remain a mirror image of the first.

Heard can also be heard on recordings apologizing to Depp for hitting him.

No one witnessed Depp be physically abusive except for one incident recounted by Heard's sister. One that Heard referenced was believable because Depp had been rumored to do the same to ex-girlfriend Kate Moss.

Moss testified Johnny Depp had never physically harmed her or pushed her down any stairs. None of Depp's ex-girlfriends have said he physically hurt them. Actress Ellen Barkin testified she once saw him throw a wine bottle. That was the extent of any woman's testimony.

6. Powerful men and abuse

There's no doubt powerful men can get away with abuse. I write about it.

It's one of the things I looked at intently while watching this play out. But Depp's longtime partner and mother of his children, Vanessa Paradis as well as other ex-girlfriends say this never existed. Some exes have said he could be jealous.

No women have come out of the woodwork.

Depp has spoken about his mother. This is what is known as the family of origin. It's not uncommon to repeat family patterns or consciously attempt to avoid them. It's possible that Johnny Depp avoided attracting women similar to his mother but ultimately did with Amber Heard.

Johnny Depp is fifty-eight years old. His reputation is that of tardiness and substance abuse. He has zero history of physical abuse against women.

7. Addiction

Johnny Depp has admitted to alcohol and drug abuse.

Amber Heard's team alluded to intimate partner violence and a connection with substance abuse. There is obvious evidence these two things can go hand in hand. However, this makes the situation extremely black or white.

Not every individual with an addiction is physically abusive. My own father was a severe alcoholic who couldn't hold a job. He was also a loving, gentle, funny man who could never overcome his addiction. What I call a 'lampshade' alcoholic. He was the life of the party. He was not a mean or violent man. Were there a few occasions my mother and father argued I would like to forget? Yes. Where awful things were said? Yes. But he was never physically abusive.

8. Expert Witness

Heard's expert psychiatrist insinuated Johnny Depp suffered from a narcissistic personality disorder and/or traits. The doctor was challenged on cross-examination about The Goldwater Rule.

Per The National Library of Medicine:

Psychiatrists should never provide professional opinions in the media about public figures they have not personally examined, the American Psychiatric Association reiterated in a statement. The association was reminding members about what is known as “The Goldwater Rule” — a guideline penned in 1973 after more than 1000 psychiatrists went public with views about US presidential candidate Barry Goldwater’s fitness to hold office, calling him, among other things, “a dangerous lunatic.”

The doctor attempted to confuse the narrative by saying no one could be an expert witness if this were the case. However, what he was doing could fall under the category of 'armchair diagnosis.' He had not evaluated Johnny Depp. Nor did he have the proper medical records to review in order to render this conclusion.

He was hired to review data not invent it.

My counseling and research on the topic of narcissistic personality disorder are extensive. I was shocked to see a psychiatrist throw around the diagnosis of an extremely serious personality disorder. One that often goes undiagnosed, even by mental health professionals because it's difficult to discern it.

For this reason, I often remind readers I am only a writer. If they suspect they are dealing with someone with narcissistic personality disorder they should seek the counsel of a qualified mental health professional. A psychologist, psychiatrist, or marriage/family counselor highly, highly specialized in the field of narcissism. Because many therapists do not have the advanced qualifications to diagnose it.

This expert witness lost credibility with me. Some of the others didn't seem to hold up well under cross-examination either.


Domestic abuse is a topic to be taken seriously. Women coming forward should be encouraged. Regardless of the outcome of this trial. This was a destructive relationship.

No one wins when a relationship becomes this unhealthy. When people say unspeakable things to one another. The kind of things even four walls shouldn't hear. Johnny Depp said atrocious things. He's admitted to such. Are they shocking to hear? Absolutely.

One thing I have learned about relationships is we stay too long.

We don't get out at the first warning signs. Often, because there is something familiar about what we are experiencing. Something from the family of origin and the roles we learned to play within our family while growing up.

Addiction and substance abuse only compound relationships. And if Amber Heard does suffer from a personality disorder it only further exaggerates an already bad situation.

One thing is for certain.

I know from experience a person can seek to destroy another human being.

One person can spin your entire life out of control. For no other reason but they didn't get what they wanted. You left them. They are seeking some type of distorted retribution.

Because of this, I looked objectively to ascertain which person in the Depp vs. Heard trial it might be. This is nothing more than my opinion. This has nothing to do with celebrities. I am not a Johnny Depp or Amber Heard fan. I am a woman who has been on the receiving side of a terrible situation. One that brought out less than desirable behavior in me because I stayed too long.

I speak about abuse so it won't happen to others and to elevate the conversation. As well as share my own mistakes and things I'm less than proud of. I'm not interested in taking sides.

I'm interested in the truth.

I still could not find myself believing Amber Heard.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a National Relationship Columnist, freelance journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, relationships, and self-restoration. She has spent more than a decade in research and counseling on the topics of divorce, relationships, and Narcissistic personality disorder.

Reston, VA

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