Sleeping With The Enemy

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Sleeping With the Enemy
Oppression of women in our patriarchal society is seen daily. Men dominate women in so many ways it becomes hard to distinguish one form of oppression from another. In the movie Sleeping With the Enemy, a young woman battles daily with an abusive, domineering husband. Although the outside world may view Laura's life as perfect, the viewer sees the whole truth. Laura's perfect life consists of an attractive, wealthy husband who would do anything for her-even kill. They live in a beautiful mansion on the coast, and Laura does not have to work if she so chooses. Every day Laura is tortured and ridiculed and criticized by her husband. Her husband, Martin Burns, is obsessed about keeping the household in perfect condition. If one towel is out of line, one can out of order in the cupboard, or if dinner is slightly late, Laura receives a severe beating. The only way for Laura to escape from her tyrannical husband is by staging her own death.
Laura takes her husband and neighbor out on a sailboat one stormy evening to execute her plan of escape. She "falls" off the boat and swims to shore. Her husband believes that Laura dies at sea because she could not swim. Secretly, though, Laura had been taking swimming lessons at the YWCA in order to facilitate her plan. After packing a small bag with some personal items and money, Laura Burns abandons her abusive husband and leaves her miserable life behind. Thus begins Laura Burns' new life as Sara Waters. She changes her name, location, situation, and is reborn.
In Laura's new life, she works at a library and starts to date again. As Sara, she is able to enjoy life and be free. Sara rebuilds her self-esteem, is able to spend more time with her mother, and can relax without being afraid of whether the shelves in the kitchen will meet her husband's standards. The escape seemed foolproof, until Martin found a piece of evidence that proves Laura is still alive. (Laura had thrown her wedding ring in the toilet and Martin finally sees it.) After weeks of searching, Martin is able to hunt down his wife. He feels that if he cannot have her, then no one will. Sara does not want to return to the terrible oppressive lifestyle she was trapped in before. Instead of giving up her new life, she shoots the "intruder" in her house and puts an end to her husband's reign of terror over her....

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...common and rarely reported. Memories of these experiences often become suppressed because of the personal humiliation and shame women feel about the situation. Notice that, in the movie, Laura never seeks legal retribution for Martin's abuse, all she wants to do is escape. Sexual abuse and spousal abuse are psychologically devastating for women because these are acts that inflict feelings of guilt upon the victim. It is too often that a female rape victim will do nothing because she feels responsible. In the beginning of the movie, when Laura was subjected to daily abuse from her husband, she probably started to feel like she deserved the treatment because her husband constantly beat her down emotionally and made her feel like nothing. When someone is beaten down for long enough they start to believe that they are worthless. Finally, Laura escapes her oppressor forever when she kills him. Not all women are so fortunate to be able to start their lives over, though. Many women die from domestic violence, and most men do not suffer consequences for their actions. This movie shows the triumph of a woman over her oppressor because she goes to any length to gain her freedom and respect.
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