Amber Heard’s facial expression while she testified against ex-husband Johnny Depp do not suggest she was lying, reveal trauma experts.
After the court ruled in favour of Depp in the highly publicised defamation case, a juror told Good Morning America that Heard lost the case because she was not “believable.”
However, trauma experts now warn against relying solely on how domestic abuse victims react recalling their traumatic experiences as it can be misleading.
Kate Porterfield, a clinical psychologist at the Bellevue Hospital Program for Survivors of Torture, told Insider that domestic or sexual abuse survivors while recounting their experience may appear frightened but then quickly “flip” in an effort to calm the agitation.
“Thus, the person can then appear flat, detached, and disconnected,” Porterfield added. “All of this is difficult for juries to understand because it seems counterintuitive that a person could look flat or maybe even bored, or that a person would have difficulty remembering details of something horrific that she suffered.”
Jim Hopper, a clinical psychologist and nationally recognized expert on psychological trauma, told the publication that it is natural to pass judgments about people on how they emote.
“You’re only human, so you can’t help it,” spilled to the outlet. “The question is, what knowledge base do you have? If they were someone who was traumatized, then are you capable of empathizing with someone who might express that trauma in a variety of different ways?”
“When police officers and soldiers talk about their military experiences, they’re not always expressing lots of emotion and they may not even want to talk about them to people who haven’t been there and don’t understand,” Hopper added.
“People can experience and express all kinds of different emotions, and that can be very unique to the individual, and it can be unique to the context.”
Hopper continued: “The courtroom was packed with Johnny Depp fans who were constantly directing massive hostility at Amber Heard and all of her witnesses.”
“So it’s not just was a person really traumatized, and what would that look like? But, also, what is it like to remember your trauma in public with a bunch of hostile people staring you down and giving you dirty looks the whole time?” he added.
“When I tell someone bad news, I actually giggle a little bit, right? Because I get nervous,” Julie Rendelman, a criminal defense attorney and legal analyst said to Insider.
“Everyone has a different reaction, and so it’s always nerve-racking at the thought that a jury would decide something based solely on how I emote, or somebody else, but it should be at least a factor for them to consider when they’re deciding someone’s credibility.”