The Mark of Abel

Merry Weston


Merry Weston runs the Denim Rape Crisis Center, a job filled with schedule-busting emergencies. That doesn’t bother her; she’s never had a schedule anyway. With grit and tenacity she keeps everything clattering along, only a little bit late. One of these days, though, Merry will have to start thinking about tomorrow.

But right now the Rape Crisis Center is combining with a domestic violence organization. Randall Darren Lancaster, IV, takes over as president of the combined Board of Directors. He immediately expresses concern over the condition of the paperwork of the center, and he and Merry clash when she wants to discuss services and clients. Back at her office she looks at Barnaby, the bear hand puppet who helps her with children.

"Randall Darren Lancaster the Fourth," she said to Barnaby, "wants to talk about tax numbers and budgets instead of the people we help."

She thought Barnaby shook his head.

"I know," she said, imagining the bear’s reaction. "That stuff is important, too. And it’s probably where I have the most trouble. But he could have at least listened to the report on services. He filled two pages in that disgustingly neat notepad of his and didn’t write a single thing down about our clients. The man has no heart." She looked at Barnaby again. "You’re right," she agreed, before he could tickle her conscience, "it’s a first impression. I’m supposed to be good at reading people and talking to them. I’ve faced tough ones before. That city council person who kept telling all those jokes. Randall can’t be that bad. There’s just something different about the way he looks at me. I’d feel like my hand was in the cookie jar even if we didn’t own one."

Merry eyed Barnaby’s rotund belly. The cookie jar was in the outside office—enough kids came into the center to make it a necessity. In theory, volunteers only nibbled to make sure the cookies didn’t get stale. Someone was always bringing fresh ones. She felt a twinge of temptation.

"Not hardly," she told the bear. "Worked hard to get my weight down and teach myself to keep it down. I’m not going to let Mr. Skinny Randall Lancaster the Fourth knock me back into old habits."

Then the phone rings and she rushes off to the emergency room to handle the next crisis.

Rape Crisis and Family Violence

Unfortunately sexual assault and domestic violence are not small problems, even in small towns. Crisis workers like Merry and the advocates that work with her provide desperately needed support to the survivors who have the courage to ask for help.

Volunteer or professional, they are true heroes.

From big cities like San Antonio to small towns like Kerrville agencies provide everything from hotline services to one-on-one emergency counseling.

But part of any survivor’s recovery is the network she or he can plug into. And that’s where you come in.

You almost certainly know people who have been abused in one way or another. When they reach out, screw up your courage and be there. But don't rescue them.


In crisis agency dictionaries "rescuing" has a definite and negative definition. It’s a good intention gone wrong.

When someone survives a crisis often they are emotionally stripped of their will. Part of the recovery process is for them to regain control over of their lives. Sometimes it isn’t easy. Sometimes they founder a bit. And sometimes a well-intentioned friend or relative "helps" by taking over the day-to-day decisions that the survivor should be making.

It’s a fine line. Certainly you want to help. But direct your help toward supporting the survivor’s efforts to regain what they have lost, not toward protecting them from the difficult process of recovery.

BarnabyThis is my Barnaby.

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