Every one goes through ups and down. Sure the ups feel great, but they never really develop an individual’s character. It is the hardships that one remembers best, and can learn from. Adversities are these struggles, these uphill battles that one must fight. Uphill battles build ones character, it teaches and individual lessons about herself. In Sleeping with the Enemy, Laura Burney is trapped in an abusive relationship with her husband Martin. She has endured over three years of pain, and oppression. But these are some of the factors that are helping develop Laura’s identity.
There are many struggles that Laura has endured, but that is what has shaped the individual she has become. The abuse that Laura has put up with has taught her to stand up for herself. Laura was raped and beat ever since she married her husband over three years ago. All of these years she has been trying to live up to his standards with straightening towels and canned food items. On one evening when they both go out, she even changes her dress to please him. Even if it means getting dressed again, and possibly being cold at the party, she changes because the alternative would be getting beat.
Martin has also raped Laura, however it was never considered rape because in those days, a woman was more like property to a man. This has affected Laura in a negative way. Since her intimate relations with Martin have been a negative aspect of her life, she associates these intimacies with fear. When she breaks out of this relationship, this fear stays with her. It is a part of her. When Ben and Laura develop their relationship to the point where they get intimate, Laura becomes scared again. However in this normal, open relationship she has the ability to stand up for herself. She learns that it is okay to say no.
To say no to a man. To say no to deals. She has learnt that she can stand up for herself. Of course it is terrible that she had to learn in such a way that she did. But this is a lesson that will always stay with her. It has become a part of who she is. Laura has been trapped, unable to express herself her entire marriage, but this has taught her how to be free. Laura tells a woman on the bus that she had been in that relationship for three years, seven months and six days. The fact that she has counted every day that she had been with Martin shows that she had suffered in that relationship.
Laura had no rights, Martin had taken away every sense of individualism she had. And example is that Laura had a love for books, and had to beg her husband just to volunteer at a library. In any healthy relationship, a man would support his spouses interests. But in this toxic relationship, Martin did not want Laura spending any time away from the house, where he could keep an eye on her. This oppression motivates Laura to leave. She knows that she has to get out, and she is determined and motivated to break free. She would have never accessed this sense of determination if she had not struggled.
When she moves to Iowa, she visits an amusement park with her new boyfriend Ben, and she laughs and smiles freely. She had never expressed such emotions while being smothered in her relationship with Martin. Her laughter was loud, and carefree. She was not worried about being beat or raped by her previous husband. She had leant how to be free. Getting out of her relationship with Martin took many risks that put Laura’s safety on the line. But these risks are what have shaped Laura into becoming the woman that she is by the end of the film.
From the age of four, when Laura almost drowned, she has had a fear of water. But she knew when the perfect opportunity presented itself, she would need to swim free. So Laura snuck out to swimming lessons. Learning how to swim can be a very big challenge within itself, to add on a fear of water shows Laura’s great bravery. Another thing that Laura had done in preparation for her escape was save up money. Seeing as Martin kept tabs on where Laura was at all times, and what she was doing, he was probably keeping track of the money that he would allow her as well.
So earning over $2100 must have taken Laura years to attain. If Martin had caught on, Laura would have been beaten. Laura was taking a huge risk by attending swimming lessons and saving up cash. These challenged have shaped Laura, into the free woman that she is at the end. She is able to be independent. She would not be the same if she had never endured the hardships that she had been faced with everyday during her life with Martin. The challenges that Laura was faced with brought out her true character. She was able to become free. Free of abuse. Free of control.
She no longer lives under the shadow of her husband. Laura’s three years, seven months, and six days of torture have resulted in a very strong independent individual. Laura will always remember the struggle, the pain, the hardships that she was faced with. But these same hardships brought out the best in her. The free-loving, determined, strong person that she is at the end is all thanks to the challenges Martin put on her. She had to fight for her rights, and she will always remember the lessons that she leant. Uphill battles become a part of an individual forever.