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Martin Burney

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Nothing can keep me away. I love you, Laura. I can't live without you... and I won't let you live without me.
~ Martin to Laura Burney.

Martin Burney is the main antagonist of the 1991 romantic psychological thriller film Sleeping with the Enemy. He is a charming, handsome and very wealthy investment counselor whose also a possessive, abusive and controlling person with OCPD (obsessive-compulsive personality disorder) and the husband of Laura Burney, the film's protagonist.

He was portrayed by actor Patrick Bergin.


Laura Burney lives in a beautiful home by the beach on Cape Cod with her husband, Martin, a charmingly handsome and wealthy investment counselor who is also possessive, abusive, and controlling. It becomes clear that he has obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), and while she tries to abide by his needs, she seems to suffer under the strain. Martin believes Laura has been flirting with an attractive neighbor, and he physically assaults her as punishment. The abuse is an ongoing routine, which began immediately after their wedding. To escape Martin, Laura plans and fakes her own death at sea in a storm while the couple are boating. Laura had deliberately led Martin to believe that she could not swim, so he believed she had died once she was lost overboard. However, having recently taken swimming lessons at the YWCA she was able to swim safely to shore. She secretly returns home, retrieves some clothing and cash she had hidden away in preparation, disguises herself, and leaves home after flushing her wedding ring down the toilet.

Laura moves to Cedar Falls, Iowa. In preparation, she has told Martin that her mother, Chloe Williams, died and pretended to attend the funeral, but secretly she had moved her to a nursing home in Iowa. She rents a modest house and adopts the name Sara Waters. In Cedar Falls, she meets Ben Woodward, who teaches drama at the local college. A relationship develops, but suffers a setback when Ben discovers that her real name is not Sara. After a date, Laura is unable to be physically intimate with Ben, and the next day, she confesses that she is on the run from an abusive husband.

Meanwhile, Martin receives a chance phone call from a friend of Laura's from the YWCA and learns of Laura's swimming lessons. His suspicions aroused, Martin heads home and finds Laura's wedding ring in the toilet bowl where it failed to flush. From the Cape Cod nursing home, he learns that Laura's mother is alive, and has her traced to the nursing home in Iowa. He visits Laura's mother without revealing his identity and learns from her that Laura is seeing a college drama teacher in Cedar Falls.

Martin finds Laura and Ben at a local fair, then follows her to her home. After leaving idiosyncratic clues around the house for Laura to find, Martin confronts Laura. Ben appears at the door and Martin, brandishing a gun, threatens to kill Ben if she doesn't make him leave. Laura talks to Ben and he appears to leave, but then breaks down the door and struggles with Martin, who knocks him unconscious. As he aims the gun at Ben, Laura distracts and attacks Martin, who drops the gun, and she manages to take control of it; she fires at Martin but misses.

Laura holds Martin at gunpoint while she calls the police. She then tells the police that she just killed an intruder, hangs up the phone and shoots Martin three times.

When Martin falls to the ground she drops the pistol and collapses, sobbing. Martin, not yet dead, picks up the gun and tries to shoot her but the gun only clicks empty. Then Martin dies. Ben is revived by Laura and they embrace as Martin's dead body lies on the ground with Laura's wedding ring inches from his hand.


Martin has an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder which making him a very abusive, controlling, possessive and obessive person who won't let anything stand in his path to love and have Laura for himself.

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