A friend of mine from college who I am in touch with only via social media these days recently made a post online about his marriage ending and his spouse being abusive. This person was a stay-at-home father who quit his job in order to raise his family in the urban hippie lifestyle that he and his spouse preferred. He stated that he had no money, and that his home was no longer a safe space for him. He humbly requested support of any kind, making sure to mention spiritual and meditative stuff, while also posting a link to his PayPal.Me page.
I was completely horrified by what I'd read, and I sent $50 to him. I don't have a ton of disposable income, but one thing I've wanted to do more of recently is to be more generous with my money, and I felt that this was a perfect opportunity for me to spend a relatively small amount of cash helping someone else.
About a month has passed since then, and he and his wife are back together. I donated that money to him during a time in which he stated that he was being abused, that he had nowhere to go or any means to travel or take care of himself, and that he needed financial support. It is obvious that he and his wife are going to work things out. I don't give a shit; I want my 50 bucks back. But I worry that I will look like the biggest asshole in the world, or that we will lose touch completely.
I feel manipulated, and also feel that he should volunteer to give the money back, because the reason that he claimed he needed it for no longer exists. I am so pissed at him—I feel like he's just a liar who's ordering $10 raw smoothies with money I should've just saved. What do you think?
The speed of their reconciliation is off-putting to you. It makes it look like they'd just gotten into a fight and he flipped out and made a crowdfunding campaign to stick it to his wife. He used a serious crowdfunding buzzword, too: abuse. Like cancer or pediatric anything, asking for money on the basis of escaping abuse is pretty much a sure way to get donations.
That quick development is off-putting to me, too, but abuse is a serious red flag, and getting out of those situations is paramount to the victim's personal health and safety. If he truly felt exploited or abused by his wife, I think he was justified in exposing her and asking for help. They reconciled pretty quickly, because sometimes that happens in abusive relationships. Sometimes the victim has a hard time getting away, especially if he’s not the breadwinner and feels beholden to taking care of the children. He might not have come home for his wife, but to have a roof over his head. He might be so far out of his professional environment that getting a job feels impossible, so returning to an abusive home becomes an option. He might be working it out for the children and not for himself.
Don't ask for your money back. Talk to your hippie friend about the situation in his home, and let him offer it back of his own free will. Granola-ass yoga types make me wanna sit on a knife sometimes—don't get me wrong—but don't try to judge the situation based on his lifestyle or appearance. People get exploited and abused no matter their background or economic standing. You're probably not the only person scoffing at their reconciliation, and he might feel judged on a larger scale than you think.
Visit with him and talk specifically about the situation with his wife. He might confess that an argument went off the wall and he panicked, then offer you your $50 back. He might also admit that he's doing it for the kids or because divorce is expensive and he has no job. You don't know his truth, so don't assume it. Talk to your friend and offer some support. Male abuse survivors don't get the support they need anyway, so I'm sure he'd greatly appreciate your friendship during this obviously trying time in his life.