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Johnny Depp accuses Amber Heard of instigating fights and violence in defamation trial

Depp is suing Heard over an essay she wrote about “representing domestic abuse” for The Washington Post in 2018.

Johnny Depp accused his former wife Amber Heard of instigating fights to satisfy a need for conflict as he resumed his testimony Wednesday morning in the trial of the defamation lawsuit he filed against her.

Depp is suing Heard over an essay she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she said she had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Although the article never mentions Depp by name, his attorneys said it indirectly refers to allegations she made against him during their 2016 divorce.

"When the allegations were rapidly circling the globe, telling people that I was a, a drunken, cocaine-fueled menace who beat women — suddenly in my 50s — it’s over,” Depp said. “You’re done"

When asked by his attorney what he had lost and what consequences he faced after the publication of the essay, Depp answered, "Nothing less than everything."

"What did it do to me? What effect did it have on me? I’ll put it to you this way, no matter the outcome of this trial, the second the allegations were made against me … once that happened, I lost then," he said.

Heard's attorneys are expected to cross-examine Depp on Thursday.

In his morning testimony, Depp alleged that Heard was in fact the instigator of their arguments and occasionally escalated their fights to physical violence.

"It was not meant to help the relationship, it was meant to feed her need for conflict," Depp said. "She has a need for conflict, she has a need for violence. It erupts out of nowhere."

According to Depp's account of their relationship, Heard would pick fights and escalate them with demeaning language. He also said that she would sometimes "strike out," whether it was a slap or a shove or throwing something at him.

"It’s hard to explain but the argument would start here but it would roll around and become this circular thing of its own," Depp said. "You’d get back to the beginning … now it’s heightened even more and it’s still circular. There’s no way in or out."

In court filings before the trial, Heard said she hit Depp only in self-defense or in defense of her younger sister, according to The New York Times.

In a callback to his testimony from Tuesday, Depp said he would often be the one to walk away from their arguments because it was a strategy he learned as a youth. He said that his mother was physically and verbally abusive, and that his father would often sit through it calmly until he eventually left his wife when Depp was a teen.

Depp recounted a fight with Heard in Australia in 2015, while he was filming the fifth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film, that led to the tip of his finger being severed.

He alleged that when Heard joined him in Australia, she was distraught over the idea of a postnuptial agreement.

"She was irate and she was possessed," Depp said.

He testified that he locked himself in numerous rooms in their rented home as Heard banged on the doors and shouted obscene insults at him. After he felt that Heard had left, Depp said that he went downstairs to the bar at the home where he consumed two or three shots of vodka.

Depp told the court that at this point, he had been abstaining from alcohol after Heard asked him to stop drinking, describing him as a monster when he drank.

"Then she came down to the bar and found me there, and of course started screaming, 'Oh, you’re drinking again,' 'the monster,' and all that," Depp said. "She walked up to me, and reached and grabbed the bottle of vodka, and then just kind of stood back and hurled it at me."

The bottle went past his head and smashed against the wall behind him, Depp said. He then grabbed a second bottle, a larger one with a handle, and poured himself another shot.

He testified that Heard then grabbed that bottle and it shattered after she threw it.

"I honestly didn’t feel the pain at first at all .… I felt heat … and I felt as if something were dripping down my hand, you know," Depp said. "And I looked down and realized that the tip of my finger had been severed and I was looking directly at my bones sticking out."

The injury sparked "some sort of nervous breakdown" in him, Depp told the court, and he wrote on the walls in his own blood. What he wrote "represented lies that she had told me," Depp said.

Depp said that his personal doctor recommended he go to the emergency room and that he lied to the doctor there about how he was injured. He later required surgery, he said, and the finger became infected.

As evidence, attorneys for Depp presented photos of the severed finger and of other alleged attacks by Heard. Audio clips recorded during their fights were also played.

In one, Heard is allegedly heard telling Depp that she was "hitting" him but did not "punch" him as he claimed.

"You’re not punched," she said in the clip played for the court.

The trial in Fairfax County, Virginia, is expected to take weeks. A Fairfax judge ruled in 2019 that Depp was within his rights to bring the case there because The Washington Post’s online editions are published through servers in the county.

Heard was granted a protective order in May 2016 after she alleged that Depp hit her in the face with a cellphone. She presented evidence to the court — a photo of a bruise to her face — and claimed he pulled her hair, screamed at her and hit her repeatedly.

“During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny Depp has been verbally and physically abusive to me,” Heard said in a sworn declaration at the time.

She also said she lived in fear of Depp, saying he had a “short fuse” and terrorized her.

Depp has denied the allegations, saying that he never became "out of control."

During his testimony, Depp addressed the incident with the cellphone, saying he tossed it on the couch after a fight in May 2016, the first time the two had spoken in nearly a month.

Depp said he told Heard the day before that his mother had just died and that he was planning to file for divorce. Depp said Heard was laughing at him with a friend on the phone as he gathering his belongings.

"It was a tough couple of days and I really didn't feel like I deserved that kind of treatment," Depp said.

He took the phone, told her friend that Heard was "all yours," and then "flung" it down onto the couch before walking away to the kitchen, Depp recounted to the court.

"I was taken aback a bit," Depp said of learning of Heard's restraining order.

Headlines and photos of Heard’s allegations against him quickly circulated, making Depp feel “ill,” he said. He described having to explain the situation to his children and that the situation felt like “treachery.”

“It controlled my every waking second, from the moment I woke up to the moment I dropped,” Depp said.

Depp said his attorneys encouraged him not to fight Heard’s allegations during the divorce, including a joint statement that was released saying “neither party has made false accusations for financial gain.”