Amber Heard’s younger sister, Whitney Henriquez, alleged in court Wednesday that she saw actor Johnny Depp exert increasing control over her sister, restricting who she socialized with, what she wore and which jobs she took during their tumultuous relationship.
Heard’s legal team called Henriquez, 34, to the stand on the 18th day of Depp’s defamation trial against his ex-wife after multiple former friends of the couple said they witnessed abuse between them.
Depp, 58 is seeking $50 million from Heard, 36, over a Washington Post editorial she wrote with the American Civil Liberties Union in 2018 that implied he was a violent partner.
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star has repeatedly denied that he was abusive, saying that Heard abused him.
Attempting to control a significant other is among the most common hallmarks of an abusive relationship, according to advocates for domestic violence survivors. Abusive behavior can include violent actions like smashing personal belongings, but also emotional and economic abuse that creates an isolating situation in which one partner has outsized dominance.
“At first, it would be, like, light jokes. You know, if she left the house wearing something, he’d be like, ‘Oh, you’re going to wear that?’” Henriquez told a panel of jurors in Virginia. She said “it just intensified” over time.
“Suddenly, they have the same stylist, and he had been essentially controlling what she wore to events and things like that. So she went from being able to wear whatever the hell she wanted, and then suddenly she’s wearing anything that her stylist ― his stylist ― wanted her to wear. And her style over time just got more and more conservative,” Henriquez said.
Heard made similar accusations during her own testimony earlier this month, saying that Depp would tell her she looked like a “whore” and did not like her baring skin.
According to Henriquez, the actor also became increasingly “protective” over the acting roles Heard took on until he had “a problem with her taking any sort of job or any sort of audition.”
“Then it became every time that she even thought about taking another movie, it was another fight,” Henriquez testified. “He would often say things like, ‘I don’t even understand why she even needs to work. I’ll take care of her. I’ll take care of you, I’ll take care of everyone, she doesn’t even need to work at all.’”
Depp was generous with properties he owned, inviting Heard’s sister and several friends to stay in a collection of adjoining penthouses in downtown Los Angeles. But Henriquez said that he “took issue” with various people over the years and allegedly prevented Heard from seeing them.
“Over time, she had such a small network of people that were there to support her, it was hard to watch,” Henriquez said. Depp eventually had a problem with Henriquez, she added, prompting her to move out.
Henriquez testified that, unlike others who knew the couple, she had witnessed physical violence, describing a fight in which Depp “grabbed Amber by the hair with one hand and was whacking her repeatedly in the face with the other.”
A friend who later fell out of Depp’s good graces, iO Tillett Wright, said in a videotaped deposition played in court Tuesday that he never saw Depp strike Heard, but did see him throw glasses and bottles in her direction. Both actors were verbally abusive to one another, Wright testified.
Another friend who lived in the penthouses while Depp and Heard were married, Joshua Drew, alleged in his taped deposition that he’d seen the aftereffects of the couple’s fights ― smashed ceramics, spilled wine, trashed clothing racks. In one alleged incident, Depp directed his anger toward Drew.
“He came in, caught eyes with me right away and beelined for me, screaming, cursing, spitting in my face,” Drew said, adding that the actor’s words were “gibberish” and that he appeared either drunk or high. Flanked by two bodyguards, Depp got within a foot of Drew’s face, he said, calling it “close enough for it to be aggressive.”
Heard’s team is expected to call Depp to the stand once more before closing arguments are made later this month.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.