Johnny Depp's sister Christi Dembrowski opened up about their abusive childhood during her testimony for the actor’s defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Speaking at the Fairfax County Court in Virginia, Dembrowski said their late mother, Betty Sue Palmer, physically and verbally abused their father, but the latter never responded:
“Dad never reacted when mom hit him or screamed at him. Basically he would let her scream and get it out and be done. The way you dealt with my mom, he always tried to keep the peace.”
Dembrowski also said their mother “screamed, yelled, hit, threw things” and called her children names:
“She would hit us, threw things, go pick a switch off a tree, that would be what she'd hit us with. One that's nice and green. If it wasn't a nice green twig it wouldn't break.”
Depp’s sister also noted that the Pirates of the Caribbean star never reacted to their mother’s actions while growing up:
“He was a typical little boy, when hurt he would cry. For the most part he just wanted to get away from it. When he was older even if she hit or threw things. he never went to that place he would get away, he would leave the area, go to him room.”
Dembrowski stated that during those days of abuse, she and her siblings, including Depp, pledged to keep domestic violence away from their respective households:
“As a young child, none of what was happening in our home felt good so as I got older, you know, both Johnny and I actually decided once we left we were never going to repeat anything ever similar to our childhood.”
Unfortunately, Johnny Depp’s ongoing case against Amber Heard stemmed from similar issues. Heard described herself as a “survivor of domestic abuse” in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed, leading several media houses to conclude that Depp abused his wife.
However, Depp sued Heard for libel in a $50-million defamation lawsuit. Heard filed a countersuit against her ex-husband and alleged that Depp attacked her while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Depp's lawyers denied all the claims and dubbed the allegations as “fabrications,” claiming that Heard was, in fact, the true abuser in the relationship.
Everything to know about Johnny Depp’s family
Johnny Depp was born to Betty Sue Palmer and John Christopher Depp on June 9, 1963, in Owensboro, Kentucky. He was the youngest of four children and grew up with his siblings, Daniel Depp, Christi Dembrowski, and Debbie Depp.
His mother previously worked as a waitress in coffee shops, while his father was a civil engineer.
Depp's parents reportedly divorced in 1978, and his mother married Robert Palm, whom Johnny Depp once dubbed his "inspiration."
Daniel is Depp’s older half-brother, born on November 14, 1953. He is reportedly a published author and screenwriter. According to his Simon & Schuster profile, he previously worked as a journalist, bookseller, and teacher.
Daniel reportedly splits his time between California and France, where he is involved in writing screenplays. He is the author of three novels titled Loser’s Town, Babylon Nights, and Devil’s Dance.
Besides having a successful writing career, Daniel also briefly entered Hollywood. He founded a production company called Scaramanga Bros. with Johnny Depp and co-wrote the script for The Brave, a film starring and directed by the latter.
Depp’s second sibling Christi Dembrowski reportedly shares a close bond with the actor. She was born on December 21, 1960, and served as the actor’s personal manager for several years. Christi has also produced a number of Depp’s movies, including Dark Shadows, Mortdecai, and The Rum Diary.
Not much is known about Johnny Depp’s third sister Debbie as she mostly stays away from the spotlight. She reportedly enjoys a private life and lives in Kentucky.
Johnny Depp has always been open about his relationship with his mother. During a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, he said he “worshipped” her but also called her a “b***h on wheels.” He added that his mother was the “meanest human being” he had ever met.
The Alice in Wonderland star married make-up artist Lori Anne Allison in 1983, but the pair divorced in 1985. Towards the end of the 1980s, Depp got engaged to actresses Jennifer Grey and Sherilyn Fenn, respectively, but none of the relationships worked. He then proposed to his Edward Scissorhands co-star Winona Ryder in 1990.
Following his split from Ryder, Depp was in a relationship with model Kate Moss between 1994 and 1997. He then started dating French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis after meeting her on the set of The Ninth Gate in 1998.
Depp and Paradis welcomed two children during their relationship. Their first child, daughter Lily-Rose Melody Depp, was born in 1999, and their second child, son John Christopher "Jack" Depp III was born in 2002.
Unfortunately, Depp and Paradis decided to go their separate ways in 2012, and the latter started dating actress Amber Heard. The pair tied the knot in 2015 but announced their split in 2016. Their divorce was finalized in 2017.