Britney Spears remains under the 12-year conservatorship of her father after a November 11 hearing in which Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny declined her request to suspend his control of her estate. The judge’s hearing, and, before that, Spears’s conservatorship, has been widely scrutinized by fans, who call for someone to #FreeBritney.

Britney’s father, James Spears, has had control of the singer’s estate since 2008 when Britney had an infamous meltdown that resulted in a psychiatric hold at UCLA hospital. That was when James first received a temporary conservatorship of Britney, then later that year, his conservatorship over her assets, estate and business affairs was made permanent.

Britney’s permanent conservatorship was something questionable to begin with, as legal arrangements of that nature are usually reserved for older adults impaired with illnesses such as dementia.

Britney seems to be high functioning while being in a conservatorship type for seriously impaired people,” a fan tweets. “People with dementia, a TBI or being in a coma. It’s really bizarre how that ever happened.”

It seems corrupt – dementia in your 20’s + no obvious decline typical with dementia & this lasting over a decade. So sad,” another replied.

However, over the past decade, more and more people have come to question how the conservatorship – which was originally temporary – has lasted for over 10 years.

Britney had a few episodes over 10 years ago,” a Twitter user writes, “used as an excuse to control her money with laws intended for those in a vegetative state. She is a prisoner of her father and it’s all about money. How is this possible?”

The fact that Britney Spears has spent basically her entire adult life with a conservator she doesn’t want is something tragic,” another user laments. “Is she really so sick she can’t handle her own life decisions?

And IF Britney needs a conservator, can it be someone other than her father? This whole dynamic is twisted. It reeks of parenting prison.

Britney continuing to have a conservator that is not her father is exactly what she and her legal team have recently been fighting for, as Britney, through her lawyer, has repeatedly hinted at her father’s abuse.

“My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father,” Samuel D. Ingham, Britney Spears’ attorney, said in court. “She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career.”

Suspicion around James’ abuse spurred on the birth of the #FreeBritney movement, which has been dedicated to getting Britney out of her potentially toxic situation and raising awareness about the ways in which she has been mistreated. James has a restraining order filed against him preventing him from seeing his grandsons or their father.

Because Britney’s public presence, including her social media, is closely micromanaged by others in her life, fans and supporters of the #FreeBritney movement have taken to analyzing her posts to uncover secret messages and calls for help. Though their efforts have been broadly dismissed as a conspiracy, believers insist that Britney has sent messages by editing words into her eyelashes in selfies, walking back and forth enough times to spell out “S.O.S” in morse code, and responding to their messages to wear certain colors if she is in danger. Her often odd Instagram uploads, and their captions, are analyzed closely.

“This isn’t a coincidence anymore,” one Free Britney believer captions screenshots of one of Britney’s posts, which alludes to a book about a child trapped with abusive parents. “Britney Spears is sending messages for help.”

James Spears actually partially temporarily stepped down from his conservator role last year for health reasons. Up until that point, he had not only controlled Britney’s financial estate, but also her person. When James stepped down, Jodi Montgomery replaced him, and in her November legal battle, Britney asked for Montgomery’s position to be made permanent, and for Bessemer Trust to eventually become her sole conservator. Two years ago, she also signed on her sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, as a trustee for her estate. With her most recent November 11 court case, Bessemer Trust was made a co-conservator alongside her father.

Britney’s efforts to move her father out of the equation have been largely praised as a brave effort to escape domestic abuse, and though Britney has mostly not spoken (or been allowed to speak) on the matter, her mother, Lynn Spears, sister, and friend Paris Hilton have all shown their supports for her and the #FreeBritney movement in several ways.

“It has broken Lynne’s heart that things have come to this point,” Lynne’s lawyer, Gladstone N. Jones, said.

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