Sleeping with the Enemy

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In the movie Sleeping With the Enemy, Laura Burns, is living a life that many would describe as perfect. Laura lives in a beautiful mansion on the coast with her handsome, wealthy husband Martin. This wealth allows Laura the opportunity to stay at home rather than working outside of the home. However, behind closed doors this perfect life is very different from what the outside world sees. Laura is constantly being beaten, ridiculed, and criticized by her husband. Martin is obsessed about keeping the house in perfect order. He is easily set off by simple things such as a towel being out of line, or a can out of place in the cupboard. Upon him discovering that things are “out of order,” he resorts to severely beating Laura. The only way for Laura to escape from this torture is to stage her own death. One stormy evening Laura agrees to go out with Martin and a neighbour on his sailboat. She does this so that she can put her plan of escaping into action. Laura “falls” over board and desperately swims to shore. Meanwhile, her husband assumes that she has drowned due to the fact that she is unable to swim. However, Laura has been secretly taking swimming lessons to help her carry out her plan of staging her own death. Once ashore, Laura packs a small bag with some personal belongings and money. At this point she abandons her abusive husband, leaving her dangerous life behind. She starts a new life as Sara Winters. This new life allows Sara the opportunity to experience what it is like to live without violence, and fear. Sara gets involved with a Professor that teaches drama at a local college, despite the fact that it is very difficult for her to let her guard down after all those years of living in fear. However, with a little patience she is able to feel safe again, but just as she is able to let her guard down, Martin finds the wedding ring Laura attempted to flush down the toilet, that stormy night she fled. Angry and determined Martin begins to frantically search for Laura, a search that eventually lands him in the middle of her new house in Idaho. Laura fearing for her life has to make an awful decision, but one her life depends on. Will she shoot Martin, and move on with her life, or let him live, and live in fear for the rest of her life? This movie presents a variety of forms of domestic abuse: physical, emotional, psychological. Although this is not a true story, I believe it portrays a very realistic view of spousal abuse. The physical abuse that is shown in this movie effectively displays just how quickly things can change, one minute everything is fine, and the next Martin is hitting and kicking Laura. I believe that this is an accurate display of how spousal abuse can occur. The textbook Family Violence, discusses Lenore E. Walkers cycle theory of violence. This ``theory has three distinct phases: the tension building phase; the explosion, or acute battering, phase; and the calm loving respite phase``. I believe that each of these phases is effectively displayed in this movie. An example of how this is displayed is when Martin is outside talking to the neighbour and he finds out that this neighbour had been in his house, he immediately confronts Laura and when he does, he quickly resorts to hitting and kicking her, and then just as quickly he apologizes and offers her gifts. One of the most valuable parts of this movie for me was that despite the fact that Laura had been able to escape from her husband, and as far as she knew he believed that she was dead, she was still very fearful and on edge. One common consequence that people who have been abused suffer is difficulty trusting others. This is depicted in the fact that despite many attempts by Ben to get Laura to discuss her past, she was not willing to let her guard down and trust him with such intimate details. Instead she just shuts down and pushes him away. This could also be due to the fact that...
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