“I believed my marriage vows were for life – I stood up in front of my family, my friends, my church – for the good times and the bad, was I wrong for wanting something different now? Was the promise I made greater than the need to keep me and my children safe?”
Your Toolkit Lived Experience Advisor
This thought journey aims to address the common issue of separating the value of remaining loyal to an abusive partner when your personal safety, and others, are at risk.
The word loyalty has positive connotations in society. According to the dictionary, it means: “giving or showing firm support or allegiance to a person or institution” or “unswerving in allegiance” (Merriam-Webster).
There was a time when a person’s ‘given word’ and demonstrated value of loyalty was all he/she had to build a reputation with.
Today, loyalty to our family is still expected and sometimes demanded, especially if one is living in a cultural minority.
It can feel like others judge us based on how loyal we are, and how often we make the choice to stay with someone.
When we consider not being loyal to loved ones, we can often be consumed by guilt, which can blur the line between needing to remain loyal and needing to protect ourselves.
So, should loyalty be unconditional and why is it always deemed positive?
Is it possible to be overly loyal as well as not being loyal enough?
It’s understood that our loyalties say something about ourselves as individuals, and we are frequently judged by who our friends and associations are.
When you are seen as associated with a person, others often believe you share their values.
So how can we weigh up the choice to remain loyal to someone versus staying with a person whose values oppose yours, or remaining in a life that is harmful to you and your children?
Ask the question, is the guilt or fear of being disloyal greater than the need to be treated with respect or to stay safe?
I hope this thought journey helps to clear the jumble of thoughts and feelings you may be grappling with.