The actress is no longer appealing the ruling that favored Johnny Depp.
Months after a lengthy and highly visible defamation trial that closed with a jury ruling against her, Amber Heard publicly announced her decision to settle in a defamation case filed by her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. But lest there be any confusion — or assumptions — Heard explained that the settlement was not a concession, and shared how she’ll continue to advocate for survivors of domestic abuse in the future.
“After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me by my ex-husband in Virginia,” Heard wrote in a Dec. 19 Instagram post. “I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed.” During the trial, widespread disdain for Heard could be found across nearly every social media channel, as she gave graphic testimonies about the physical and sexual abuse she allegedly experienced while in a relationship with Depp. The jury ultimately sided with Depp on three counts of defamation against Heard and awarded him $15 million in total damages. Depp and his lawyers continue to deny all allegations of abuse.
The Virginia jury also found Depp liable for $2 million in damages for defamation against Heard in the June 1 verdict over one of his lawyers’s characterization of Heard’s sexual abuse allegations as a “hoax.” Still, Heard now faces devastating long-term effects to her career, financial standing, and mental health — exacerbated by a barrage of vitriol on social media, which has continued even after the trial ended. “The vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimised when they come forward,” Heard wrote, describing the settlement as an opportunity to “emancipate” herself from an exhaustive legal process that exposed her to “a type of humiliation that [she] simply cannot re-live.”
She added, “I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward.”
This settlement is the culmination of a long, arduous legal process that began in 2019, when Depp filed a defamation suit against Heard after she published an op-ed in The Washington Post describing herself as a victim of domestic violence. While the piece never mentioned Depp by name, the actor’s attorneys claimed it referred to allegations Heard made against him during their divorce in 2016. But while Depp may have prevailed in the United States, he actually lost a similar case in the United Kingdom: In November 2020, Justice Andrew Nicol ruled against Depp in his battle with The Sun, a British tabloid which labeled him a “wife beater.” In his ruling, Nicol stated that “the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp have been proved to the civil standard,” per Reuters.
“When I stood before a judge in the U.K., I was vindicated by a robust, impartial and fair system,” Heard wrote in her recent statement on Instagram. But in the U.S., she claimed, “popularity and power mattered more than reason and due process.” Still, despite the setbacks she’s faced, Heard made it clear she stands strong in her decision to move forward with her life — and to support other survivors of domestic abuse.
“Women shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking her truth,” she wrote. “I will not be threatened, disheartened, or dissuaded by what happened from speaking the truth. My voice forever remains the most valuable asset I have.”