You can see right away that Tom Williamson, Corbin Bernsen, is committable in how he treats his long suffering wife Beth, Donna Mills, at the start of the film. It's as if anything that Beth does is not good enough for her control freak nut-case of a husband! Even the potato salad that Beth cooked up for Tom and her sweet and also abused, because of her pops instability, 6 year old daughter Lourie, Alexandera Purvis, ended up, together with the main course, on the floor not the kitchen table. Always looking to start something over nothing Tom's brutality against his helpless wife reach a breaking point when she together with little Lourie flee from the Williamson home to the safety of her sister Terrie's, Allison Hossack, place before the deranged Tom ends up killing her.
It's later when Tom breaks into Beth's parents house where she was staying that he really went all out in battering her leaving Beth's face a bloody mess and almost unrecognizable. It's then with Beth's father Andrew, Ken Pouge, and the local police coming to her rescue that she finally decided to press charges against the crazed and dangerous lunatic. Faced with jail time and the loss of his daughter Lourie, in a custody battle that Beth is sure to win, Tom changes his tactics in him acting babyish and almost stupid. This is Tom's way of trying to show the court just how innocent he is and that it's really Beth, whom he claims abuses both him and Lourie, who's really the cause of all the problems in the Williamson household. Being the master manipulator that he is Tom at first gets away with it in him being released from the clink, jail, but forced to attend anger management classes. Instead of learning to control his temper Tom learns all the ins and outs of saying the right words to his probation officer that ends up with him being let out on the street to do more damage to Beth despite an order of protection from the court issued against him!
It's when Beth is forced to testify in open court against her roommate Kaye Farrar's (Robin Givens), at the local battered woman's shelter where Beth & Lourie are now living, deranged and estranged husband Joe, Tracy Olsen, whom she witnessed knifing her to death that her cover in being in the witness protection program is blown. With Tom now completely out of control in his wanting to do Beth in he now can find out, in her being forced to testify, Beth's place of residence!
**SPOILERS** If Tom wasn't crazy enough the last ten or so minutes of the film has him go the whole nine yards straight to a both padded cell and straight-jacket. It's Beth very alert neighbors who in the end saved her life by calling the police who came to her rescue when this time around Tom was ready to use a gun, not his fists, on her! The movie shows how a defenseless woman like Beth Williamson is mistreated by her deranged husband because of at first her unwillingness, until it finally gets out of hand, to press charges against him. It was Beth putting up with Tom's craziness that in fact encouraged, in getting away with it, instead of pacified Tom and almost lead to her ending up getting killed by him!