The Washington Post op-ed, titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” does not mention Depp’s name or details about their relationship. Both Heard and Depp are unable to speak publicly about their relationship as part of a nondisclosure agreement they signed in their divorce when they settled out of court in August 2016. Heard does mention the repercussions she experienced, including losing work and death threats, after filing a domestic abuse restraining order against Depp in May 2016. “Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she wrote. In the lawsuit, Depp’s legal team claims that though the op-ed does not mention Depp by name, it “depended on the central premise that Ms. Heard was a domestic abuse victim and that Mr. Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her.” They also allege that Heard’s op-ed was purely promotional. “They were part of an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career,” Depp’s lawyers say in the lawsuit.
A representative of Heard’s responded to the defamation suit in a statement: “This frivolous action is just the latest of Johnny Depp’s repeated efforts to silence Amber Heard. She will not be silenced. Mr. Depp’s actions prove he is unable to accept the truth of his ongoing abusive behaviour. But while he appears hell-bent on achieving self destruction, we will prevail in defeating this groundless lawsuit and ending the continued vile harassment of my client by Mr. Depp and his legal team.”
The lawsuit also claims that Heard entered into a relationship with Elon Musk “no later than one month after” she and Depp were married in February 2015. According to The Guardian, Heard filed for divorce in May 2016, which was finalised in August. A representative for Musk maintains that “Elon and Amber didn’t start seeing each other until May 2016, and even then it was infrequent. Their relationship didn’t become romantic until some time later.” Depp is suing for compensatory damages as well as punitive damages.