Abortion money betrayal, in this week’s We’re Prudence.

Every week on Twitter @jdesmondharris, Dear Prudence asks readers for their thoughts on a question that has her stumped. She’ll post her final thoughts on the matter on Fridays. Here’s this week’s dilemma and answer:

Dear Prudence,

Three years ago, my younger sister called me crying and said she was pregnant. She needed money to travel out of state for an abortion. I didn’t even think about it. I transferred every penny of my savings over $4,000. Our family is very conservative and wouldn’t be supportive at all.

Instead, my sister chose to keep the pregnancy. And my money. She tried to justify it as a “gift” and said she needed it for the baby. I protested, and she threatened to tell our family that I tried to get her to have an abortion. I was dependent on them for financial support while going to school. I backed off, but cut off contact with my sister. I never even met my nephew and have no desire to.

The pandemic gave me the perfect excuse not to visit, but now my family keeps asking me when I will visit. I don’t know how to handle seeing my sister again or how I will react if she tries to pretend everything is fine. I need some help.

— Going Home

Dear Going Home,

A big question I was left with after reading your letter was “How does the letter writer actually feel about these people?” Did you love and adore your sister before you gave her the money? Was your relationship good up until that point? Do you miss her? And what about your conservative relatives? Do you generally enjoy and respect them? Or is “conservative” standing in for “their values are opposite of mine in every way and they’re constantly saying things that piss me off and hurt me”?

Without knowing that, I can’t tell whether you want to get to a place where you can visit or if you’d rather live without all of them. But I can help you with a script for how to explain to your relatives why this visit is difficult and take the power to define your relationship with them back from your sister. Or rather, our readers have a script.

Before we get there, though, I thought this was a good idea:

I’d start with contacting the sister and asking her for the $4000.00 and see what she says.

Obviously, some time has passed and perhaps she’ll have had a change of heart since she is probably in a more stable position —@MrQuindazzi

Just ask for the money back! It’s been a while! She might have it now, along with some maturity and a different attitude. And maybe even an apology. It’s worth asking.

If she says no, I agree with those who suggested you explain to your family what happened in very simple terms:

To the family: “I emptied my savings to help sis when she begged. Sis now lies it was a gift. She abused my trust.” I wouldn’t say anything else. That little boy doesn’t need to be the object of family gossip. Which would definitely happen were the whole truth be known. —@LolaIsAnIsland

If OP wants to see family—she will have to see sister. Just say that the sister owes her over $4k and if the family asks for what, tell them to ask the sister. —@mc_swooney

“She knows what she did. She lied to me and stole $4K from me. Oh you need to know more? Ask her yourself.” —@melderry

Sounds like the family sucks anyway, just tell the truth lol. she stole $4k from you! —@kaitybella

It seems pretty easy to tell the family that she lied about needing help and stole $4k and leave it at that, without specifically mentioning the abortion and blackmail. —@alyginspace

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what happens if your sister follows through on her threat to say you “tried to get her to have an abortion.” You can simply respond “She said she wanted an abortion and I agreed to pay for it, yes.” If your relatives choose to believe her story and vilify you—or if they vilify you based on what actually happened–that ends your relationship with them without your having to do much at all. And it will probably be for the best. Prepare to be at peace with that if it happens.

No one responded to the part about how to act if you see your sister again. So I would just say: Take a deep breath and remember that you are not the person who did something wrong here. You didn’t blackmail anyone. You were generous and caring. You can hold your head up high.
Say hi and bye. Tell her your nephew is cute. And keep moving. Don’t give her any ammunition to try to make you the bad guy—because that’s exactly what she’s hoping to do.