Dr. Soo Battle

2019 Wacoan of the Year

By Megan Willome


Her personality is such that she can make those children feel safe and not threatened, but she’s a tigress when it comes to protecting abused children, making sure none of them falls through the cracks.

One child

Picture a 5-year-old girl. Let’s call her Julia. She wakes up after a bad dream. Her mom knows something is wrong, so she brings her daughter hot cocoa — she actually lets her drink it in bed — and sits beside her. As Julia begins to talk, her mom gets that uh-oh feeling.

Recently Julia and her mother attended a Camp Careful session for kids ages 3-6 and their parents. The presenter, Dr. Soo Battle, a pediatrician and medical examiner with the Advocacy Center, talked about good touches and bad touches. Dr. Soo, as she’s better known, reminded the girls and boys in attendance that no one should see their private parts except a parent or a doctor. She taught them there are no “forever secrets.”

Because of Camp Careful, Julia had the words to tell her secret. Her mother called the Waco Police Department, who connected her with the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children. A forensic interview was arranged along with a medical exam. The one-on-one interview was conducted by a trained professional, recording the information Julia shared.

For the medical portion, Julia was examined by Dr. Soo, who she remembered from Camp Careful. She liked her. She trusted her. A case manager was assigned to guide the family through the legal, medical and psychological implications of the disclosure. Counseling for the mother and play therapy for Julia was provided. The multidisciplinary team at the Advocacy Center met weekly to share updates on the case. The abuse was stopped.

Why does Dr. Soo do this difficult work? It’s her calling.

“I think I’m supposed to do this. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” she said.

Brandon Frenzel, one of her pastors at First Methodist Waco, agrees.

“In Waco, Texas, we need a Soo Battle,” he said.

She has a level of passion and energy that’s infectious. Her passion and drive motivate me and motivate others. What we do cannot be done by one person alone, but it takes one person to motivate the rest, and she does an incredible job with that. — Sgt. Jason Lundquist, Waco Police Department Crimes Against Children Unit

Symptoms

Often the Wacoan of the Year is someone with national or even international recognition. That’s not the case with Dr. Soo — not because she doesn’t deserve it but because her work is something we’d all rather not talk about.

Dr. Soo didn’t plan this to be her life’s work. But when she was in medical school, she did a rotation with an Austin pediatrician who was the director of the city’s advocacy center, Center for Child Protection.

“That was eye-opening and shocking to me because the one exam that I shadowed her on, [the child] was in elementary school, a 6- or 7-year-old Caucasian female, sexually abused by her biological father. She was from an upper middle-class family. She broke all the stereotypes that I, and I think a lot of other people, imagine of children who are abused,” Dr. Soo said. “I didn’t even know that kind of stuff happened, really, that it would be someone who looked like her.”

Since December 2015 Dr. Soo has been the medical examiner at the Advocacy Center for children who allege sexual abuse, and since 2018 she has been the center’s medical adviser. She served on the board from 2008-2012.

It was in 2008 as a board member that she invited a group of friends and their preschool children to a presentation by Children’s Advocacy Center program director Dr. Kerry Burkley.

“I was like, ‘Hey, Kerry, can you talk to my group of friends?’ and he talked about stranger danger, private parts. He had this great little puppet show,” Dr. Soo said. “After that my friends wanted to invite more people, and they were like, ‘Can you just do it? Our kids know you and love you, and you’re so great with kids.’ I said, ‘Sure, I’ll do it.’ People started inviting other people, and we outgrew the space.”

And so Camp Careful was born. One of those early moms in attendance was Kristin Pinkstaff.

“As a mom, I really appreciated it. I was clueless myself,” Pinkstaff said. “She makes it comfortable for people when she talks about uncomfortable subject matter.”

Camp Careful has grown to a variety of talks for different age groups, some open to the public and some private engagements, mostly at churches and schools.

In 2015, Dr. Soo started a blog to publicize Camp Careful events and communicate with parents who had attended a session.

Here’s what she wrote in her first blog post at CampCareful.com:

“What do I know?
I know that I’m not a writer.
I know that I’m not a blogger.
I know I don’t want to chronicle every
thought/opinion that crosses my mind.
I know that I never intended to create
a website or imagined that people would
want to hear what I have to say.
I know I don’t have time to take on
this new endeavor.
But, you know what else I know?
I know private parts. That’s right.
Private parts.
I know about kids and child health issues.
I know that there are hundreds of moms
and dads out there who are asking
for help. Help protecting their kids from
emotional harm, physical harm,
sexual abuse.
I know I have information and skills
to educate parents and children,
empower them, and help prevent abuse
from happening.”

So she stepped up.

The need is great. In Texas each year there are more than 65,000 confirmed cases of sexual abuse. The actual number is undoubtedly higher because most children do not disclose. That’s why Dr. Soo empowers kids to speak out and gives adults the tools they need to identify abuse.
“I think that’s the essence of Camp Careful in all my classes is teaching kids and parents accurate information, developmentally appropriate information, information that’s gonna keep them safe,” she said. “You don’t have to run from that information, even if it’s a topic that seems taboo or scary or difficult to navigate. We still have to have those conversations. We can do it in a way that’s not scary for anybody.”

Diagnosis

In guiding these conversations, Dr. Soo wears two different hats. One is the Camp Careful hat, when she talks with children and parents. The other hat, the Advocacy Center one, involves training professionals who work with kids. So when she speaks to the youth group at First Methodist, to students at Reicher Catholic High School or to parents at Midway ISD’s Very Important Parent Night, that’s her Camp Careful hat. When she speaks to the Mentor Waco Coalition, the Chamber LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) mentors or at a training for emergency room nurses, that’s her Advocacy Center hat. When she speaks at the Women’s Empowerment Summit or to the local chapters of National Charity League and Young Men’s Service League, she’s kind of wearing both hats.

The statistics show she needs to wear these hats as much as possible. A 2013 study that focused only on abuse where physical contact was involved revealed that 1 in 10 children are sexually abused: 1 out of 7 girls and 1 out of 25 boys. Dr. Soo reminds audiences that those numbers represent approximately two kids in every classroom.

Other statistics Dr. Soo frequently cites in her presentations include the following:
• Most sexual abuse, 90-94%, is perpetrated by someone the victim knows and trusts.
• About 40% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are actually children themselves, especially those between the ages of 12-14.
• Approximately 70% of child sexual offenders have more than one victim, and 20-25% have 10-40 victims.
• Almost three-quarters of survivors do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year, and 45% do not tell anyone for at least five years. Some never tell.
• More than 80% of sexual abuse incidents happen when a child is isolated and alone with a perpetrator.
• Arrests are made in only 29% of child sexual abuse cases, but the conviction rate is extremely high, between 80-90%.

“There are so many children and adults who are a victim of child abuse or neglect, and they often have kept that secret for years. Survivors of child sexual abuse have a lot of barriers that keep them from talking about their trauma,” Dr. Soo said. “We, as a society, need to continue talking about child sexual abuse so we can take away the guilt, shame and fear often felt by survivors. If we can help explain signs and symptoms of abuse, ways to make an outcry, ways to get help, then maybe we can get these survivors the help they need.”

There may be many reasons a child is not comfortable coming forward, especially when they know the abuser well. The adult who learns of the abuse does not need to provide proof. Girls and boys who have experienced sexual abuse may or may not experience physical changes, but they almost always have behavioral ones. So while a child could have abdominal pain, bladder infections, accidents or soiling of underwear, other signs might not seem as obvious, like unusual anger, excessive fear, self-harm, disciplinary issues, eating too much or not eating at all, and sudden sexual behavior.

How do we talk about such difficult subjects? How do we raise awareness in our community, educate families and empower children? That’s where Dr. Soo’s Camp Careful comes in.

Prescription

More than 4,200 kids and 1,800 parents have attended Camp Careful, for a total of over 6,500 people. Many come more than once. The sessions often sell out.

In 2011, Camp Careful expanded beyond the Advocacy Center and moved to First Methodist Waco. That was the year the Penn State child sex abuse scandal broke, and Dr. Soo saw a need to address a wider audience.

“I can’t remember if she asked or we offered, but it’s a great partnership,” said First Methodist executive pastor Brandon Frenzel. “It would not cost her anything to use our space, which would allow her to reach more people and keep her costs down.”

In my interviews, the words that kept coming up to describe Dr. Soo were “trust” and “trusted.” Parents trust her, educators trust her, Waco Police Department trusts her, the defense attorney’s office trusts her, juries trust her. Kids, too.

“Children don’t listen to everybody, but they listen to Soo,” Frenzel said.

Camp Careful’s emphasis is on safety. That may include talking to preschoolers about getting lost at H-E-B or to middle schoolers about vaping or to high schoolers about using the buddy system at parties.

“The teenager classes and the classes that involve educating parents, I always tell them, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’ What’s hard about getting parents and teenagers to come to the class is they think they know enough,” Dr. Soo said. “We either, a) don’t want to think about bad stuff or evil stuff existing that our kids will potentially be exposed to, or b) we don’t know how to talk about it.”

Dr. Soo teaches us how. Her sessions for preschoolers occasionally make parents squirm or at least turn pink, says former Advocacy Center board member Jamie Goble.

“The first time I took my son he was 3. [Dr. Soo] starts off — it can be a little shocking for some parents — she’ll touch the top of her head, her shoulders, her elbows, and she’ll ask the kids, ‘What is this?’ Then she’ll touch her breasts, and she’ll ask the kids, ‘What is this?’ It’s amazing to hear the litany of words that kids have been taught. All the kids know knees, elbows, toes, nose, but for breast, penis, vagina — the words they scream out,” Goble said. “Then [Dr. Soo] looks up at the parents and says, ‘You need to use anatomically correct words.’ She tells you then a perpetrator can’t use these cutesy names. When a doctor says, ‘Where did he touch you?’ our kids can use anatomically correct names. The kids take power and ownership over these words.”

Goble said she took her son twice to the preschool session, then again when he was about 6.

“[Dr. Soo] asks the kids to shout out body parts, and she touched her breasts and asked, ‘What is this?’ and he screams ‘Breasts!’ really loud. Soo said, ‘He’s taken my class before,’” Goble said.

The point of these uncomfortable topics is to raise awareness before something happens.

“It’s a beautiful introduction to the innocence all kids should have, and that’s what we’re trying to protect,” Goble said.

Parents, who pay a $10 or $12.50 ticket charge depending on the class, often take their kids to Camp Careful multiple times.

“She sends you home with bullet points, checklists of topics to talk about with your kids. She suggests you do it during everyday rituals — bathtub time, bedtime, car time. She gives the info, it’s our job [as parents] to keep talking about it,” Goble said. “When you see your kid maturing, it makes sense that the next time we go, she’ll use different types of examples or topics. You realize, ‘I could use more of that.’”

In an October 3 Facebook post about a Camp Careful session for girls at Woodgate Intermediate School (a separate seminar for boys was held the day before), Dr. Soo wrote this:

“My favorite part: when I told the girls they were the BOSS of their bodies and they were IN CHARGE, and one girl up front pumped her fist in the air and said an emphatic ‘YES!!!’”

The reason Dr. Soo charges for Camp Careful is simple: to prevent no-shows.

“That’s usually enough for parents to say, ‘I paid for it, I’m gonna come,’” she said. “That dropped the no-show rate tremendously. People were invested in it.”

But she’s not in this to make money.

“I didn’t charge for Camp Careful for the longest time. I only started because it was consuming so much of my time, and my family and friends were like, ‘This is your expertise. You should be charging for your time. You are spending so much time on this and your own money doing the advertising and Facebook and travel.’ They finally convinced me,” she said.

Nikki Rhea, donor liaison for the Advocacy Center and a mom whose kids have attended Camp Careful, is impressed that Dr. Soo can tailor the message to her audience while keeping the content the same.

“The attention of a 3- and 4-year-old is different from a 14- and 15-year-old. She knows not to deliver too much, where it’s overwhelming and scary. She knows her audience,” Rhea said.

Despite the sensitivity of the subject matter, Rhea says the tone is not inflammatory or fearmongering.

“It’s related in such a way that is soothing and calm. There’s no fearful delivery,” she said. “That’s honestly the way we’re gonna lower abuse. We’ve gotta talk about it — educating children, educating educators, parents. As people become more aware, they’re more comfortable to share.”

Dr. Soo’s delivery not only calms the children in her audience but the parents as well.

“She can relate to everyone. It’s immediate trust and confidence and respect,” Rhea said. “She’s an everyday mom, like us.”

But unlike everyday moms, Dr. Soo has a following.

“We’re all just in awe of her,” Rhea said. “When you meet someone like her, you say, ‘I want to be on that team.’ The great thing is she’ll let you be on the team.”

The team is always expanding as moms attend Camp Careful with their children and then tell other moms, who then attend and become part of the team.

Lindsay Bawduniak, a friend who’s known Dr. Soo since their husbands met in medical school, has attended Camp Careful with all four of her children. Her kids are in Bosqueville ISD, and she says moms who know she is friends with Dr. Soo will stop her and ask, “When is the next Camp Careful?” and “When she is offering it again?” and “We need to get back to Camp Careful!”

“It opens up conversations with all of us moms,” Bawduniak said.

Those conversations didn’t often happen before Dr. Soo started Camp Careful.

“She’s always told me, ‘You need to normalize it. It has to be normalized in your house,’ and she’s brought that into my entire community. I do it with all my friends now because of her,” Bawduniak said.

Doctor’s office

There are people in town who don’t know about the work the Advocacy Center has done to help crime victims and children since 1976, when it was the Rape Crisis Center. The Advocacy Center serves six Central Texas counties from its four offices, including its new Waco location on Hillcrest Drive.

“If you don’t know the Advocacy Center, it’s good because it means you’ve never known a child or adult victim who’s needed the services,” Jamie Goble said.

But the center’s services are in need. Executive director Barbara Wright says the number of clients they are seeing has practically doubled, and that’s happening at the 70 other advocacy centers in Texas as well.

“When we first started doing medical exams, we were doing 60 a year for children 17 and under. The year before last we did 112 and last year 99,” Wright said.

She adds that a couple of years ago Texas advocacy centers worked with Department of Family and Protective Services (which is over Child Protective Services) to improve coordination of care. That has led to more reporting. And people like Dr. Soo are bringing more awareness.

“Part of it is because of people like Soo that talk about sexual abuse, child abuse, and make it not so taboo so that more people report,” Wright said.

As the center’s medical adviser, Dr. Soo oversees the staff of SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner) nurses who do exams at the hospitals. She also chairs the quarterly meeting of the sexual assault response team, with every member of the multidisciplinary group of professionals who work on the cases. Each year she presents at the Advocacy Center’s Child S.A.F.E. (Stopping Abuse, Fostering Empowerment) Conference educating law enforcement officials and — at this year’s event — school district officials on the mandatory requirements of reporting child abuse.

Dr. Soo’s main job at the Advocacy Center is to perform medical exams for children who do not need to be seen at a hospital. Regardless of the extent of the sexual abuse, only 5-10% of exams will result in a physical finding that can be used in legal proceedings because so many children come forward long after the abuse occurred.

When a child makes an outcry to law enforcement or CPS, that’s when Dr. Soo gets involved.

“If they [suspect] a child has been sexually abused, they’ll schedule an exam for Dr. Battle to check that child, and her main focus is to make sure of their physical health and that they’re getting the medical attention they need. Her first priority is to check on the health of those kids,” Wright said. “Her personality is such that she can make those children feel safe and not threatened, but she’s a tigress when it comes to protecting abused children, making sure none of them falls through the cracks.”

Dr. Soo’s office is welcoming, with giant stuffed animals and puzzles all over the walls.

“Usually just her voice and temperament — she’s so calming. There have been children that have told her their story [before she even asks] about it. They’re very open most of the time,” Wright said. “If they start to cry, she’ll give them a big hug and let them know that they’re safe here.”

When a child makes an outcry, it must be reported to law enforcement or to CPS — that’s what mandatory reporting means. Those organizations coordinate with the Advocacy Center for the child’s care, which always includes an investigation. There’s no choice in the matter because the safety of children is at stake.

Wright said sometimes a parent will call the Advocacy Center and report sexual abuse of a child, and the center will advise the parent to call law enforcement and CPS. But just in case they don’t, the center contacts the authorities themselves.

“If someone tells us something about a child, even if they say, ‘I don’t want you to report this,’ we have to, by law,” Wright said.

Because of the work the Advocacy Center does, it’s never exactly a good day at the office, but Dr. Soo does what she can to make it a better day.

“There are times when I need a shoulder too, and she is always there for me,” Wright said.

Dr. Ann Sims, who served as the Advocacy Center’s medical adviser for 20 years, trained Dr. Soo to take over her position.

“I knew that I’d want to retire by 70,” Sims said. “It’s one of those positions that it’s not just for anyone. It’s gotta be someone who feels a call. I could not leave unless I knew the right person was there.”

But when she met Dr. Soo, who was then serving on the board, she knew she was the one, especially when she saw how she interacts with children.

“She doesn’t coddle them. She gives it to them straight,” she said. “One of the wonderful things about Soo is she’s extremely thorough.”

The Waco Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Unit is housed in the Advocacy Center, providing greater coordination of care. Sgt. Jason Lundquist supervises the six detectives who investigate every offense against a child in Waco, and he works closely with Dr. Soo.

He says Waco’s Advocacy Center is unique. One, simply because it has a pediatrician on staff. Two, because that pediatrician is Dr. Soo. And three, because the center uses a multidisciplinary approach to investigating child abuse.

He says that approach began in Huntsville, Alabama, after mistakes in the McMartin preschool case in California failed to return a conviction following six years of criminal trials for two adults arrested for multiple accounts of sexual abuse.

“That caused a lot of professionals to retrospectively look at what went wrong. A lot of things were identified as needing improvement in child abuse investigations, including having medical [professionals], law enforcement, prosecuting attorneys, mental health counselors, case managers and CPS as part of one team,” he said. “The idea behind that is the focus will be on the overall holistic needs of the child victim and the nonoffending caregiver to ensure the best-case outcome.”

That coordination continues to expand in Waco.

“Under the protocols for our center, through the National Children’s Alliance, anyone who [comes in contact with] a child who is a victim of abuse is a part of that team — so that includes ER nurses, teachers, counselors, a lot of people,” Lundquist said.

He sees Dr. Soo, whom he calls “Doc Battle,” at the front of this effort toward greater coordination. In October the two of them met with Midway ISD staff at every grade level. Why did he come along?

“Doc Battle asked me if I would go,” he said. “She’s been very proactive in getting training to other service professionals who encounter child abuse, particularly those who are mandatory reporters.”

Lundquist says he’s inspired by Dr. Soo’s drive and energy.

“I have never seen Soo Battle have a bad day. It’s very easy in this line of work to say, ‘Boy, I’m not feeling it today,’ and I’ve never seen that with her. She has a level of passion and energy that’s infectious. Her passion and drive motivate me and motivate others,” he said. “What we do cannot be done by one person alone, but it takes one person to motivate the rest, and she does an incredible job with that.”

And he added, “She throws a mean Christmas party.”

Physician

Dr. Soo is a real woman, with talents and interests and even idiosyncrasies. She’s a foodie who makes restaurant reservations months in advance when she’s traveling, and yet her friends report, “She does not like cheese but love, loves Torchy’s queso. None of us understands it.”

Soo Cho Battle grew up in Austin, where she graduated from Westlake High School in 1992. She stayed in town, attending the University of Texas at Austin as a Plan II honors program major. After graduating in 1996, she went to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, where she also completed her residency in pediatrics.

She started playing piano at the age of 5 and continued taking lessons through college.

“In fact, my Plan II thesis was a research paper and a piano performance,” Dr. Soo said. “Please don’t ask what my thesis was, because I don’t remember.”

She also loves singing. Dr. Soo took voice lessons and made a select ensemble choir at UT, but she was scared to sing in public after a disastrous solo performance in elementary school.

“I would often lip-sync during choir concerts. I could do auditions in front of judges, but I got nervous in front of crowds. Now, here I am speaking in front of hundreds of children and parents at Camp Careful 30 years later,” she said.

She married her high school sweetheart, Jake Battle, in 2000. He’s an orthopedic surgeon at Coryell Health. They crammed in a Saturday wedding between her med school graduation on the Saturday before and his on the Saturday after. The couple took a brief honeymoon before they both began their residencies in Galveston. She completed her pediatric residency in 2003. The couple has two children, both in Midway ISD — Sam, a sophomore at Midway High School, and Brooke, a seventh-grader at River Valley Intermediate School.

Friend and Advocacy Center colleague Nikki Rhea says for several years Dr. Soo was known for her unusual back-to-school Facebook posts.

“It’s not pictures of her kids — she takes pictures of herself with a cocktail in her hand. She has her martini and a bow on her head, and she’s out at the pool,” Rhea said. “She stopped as her kids got older. She said, ‘That’s retired!’”

Dr. Soo is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP), meaning she is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and maintains a commitment to lifelong learning as well as advocacy for children. She’s a member of the Texas Pediatric Society and since 2015 has served on the Child Abuse and Neglect Committee. She’s also a member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. But she’s never worked a regular pediatrician’s 9-to-5 schedule.

In Galveston, she worked in a pediatric emergency room, and in Temple, she worked in pediatric urgent care at Baylor Scott & White. She then transferred to the Waco branch and for 10 years worked part time, seeing kids who needed same-day appointments. Dr. Soo left that position in April to expand her work with Camp Careful and the Advocacy Center.

Before becoming a staff member, she served on the Advocacy Center board from 2008-2012, volunteering, helping raise money and participating in the annual Mardi Gras Ball. In 2018 she was crowned queen, kicking off a year of service as the Advocacy Center’s ambassador in Waco.

Nikki Rhea says what most people don’t know about Dr. Soo is that the job does sometimes get to her.

“Because she’s so bold and brave and she talks about this all the time, you think she can deal with it and it doesn’t affect her. We’re used to her smile and her confidence and joy, so when she shares those moments of leaving the office crying, that’s the relatable part,” Rhea said. “As a friend, wondering what can we do, she’ll say, ‘Thank you so much. Yes, let’s go for a run,’ or ‘Let’s go get a cocktail.’”

Running is a regular — though not exclusive — part of Dr. Soo’s stress relief. She and Lindsay Bawduniak, a friend since Galveston, have run together for about six years. When they started, Bawduniak didn’t enjoy running long distances, but that didn’t stop Dr. Soo from training her.

“I’m not a runner — she’s a runner. She convinced me to do a triathlon with her. I still don’t know how. I’d never even run more than 2 miles in my entire life, but she trained me. She walked me through the whole process,” Bawduniak said. “The next thing I knew we were doing [triathlons] and half-marathons every year.”

But Bawduniak got Dr. Soo back — she got her to run a full marathon earlier this year.

“My friend Lindsay asked if I wanted to do a full [marathon], and I never wanted to do a full. I always had injuries, stress fractures. My body can’t handle it; I’m getting old. But Lindsay, because I dragged her to her first half-marathon, said, ‘We’ve gotta do a full. We’ll do it someplace fun — New Orleans. We love food. Our husbands can come.’ We trained, and I think about halfway through training, when we got to 13 or 15 miles, I started having foot pain again. It was a struggle finishing the training, and the marathon was a disaster for me because of pain. That was February. I stopped running for three, four, five months. After that, I’m like, ‘I’m not running. I hate it.’ But I’m getting back into it again. I started running again a couple months ago,’” Dr. Soo said.

Her other interests include being a part of the Waco community. She joined the Junior League of Waco in 2006 and is a sustaining member. She also served on the Providence Foundation board for two years. This year she was asked to join the board of trustees of Waco Foundation. She’s active in her church, First Methodist.

Dr. Soo has been recognized by the Waco community as well. Last month, she was one of four finalists for the Greater Waco Chamber’s Athena Leadership Award.

Brandon Frenzel says because Dr. Soo is a mom and a church member and a community mover-and-shaker, it’s easy to forget the heroic work she does.

“When you see her at carpool or at church, you may not think you’ve got a hero in your midst, because she’s so easy to be around. She’s light, she’s disarming. But she’s doing really tough, hard, important work,” he said.

Recovery

Dr. Soo and I met at Fabled Bookshop & Cafe for her interview. Since she’s cut back on running a bit, she says she’s spending more time reading. Barbara Wright of the Advocacy Center told me she loves Dr. Soo’s laugh. During our interview, Soo laughed often — too many times to note each one. I could easily see how she would put a child at ease, even when the child has something very difficult to say.

WACOAN: How did the name Dr. Soo get started?

Battle: That started a long time ago. When I started Camp Careful, the first group of kids were my best friends’ children. So when you have little kids, sometimes they call their mom’s friends by their first name, but a lot of my friends said, ‘You’ve gotta call her Dr. Soo. She’s still a doctor.’ They were very big on needing to be courteous and respectful. And because a lot of my close friends were also doctors’ spouses, they always taught their children, ‘You call her Dr. Soo.’ Then I started saying in Camp Careful, ‘My name’s Dr. Battle, and you can call me Dr. Soo.’

WACOAN: You’ve also been called the ‘private parts doctor.’

Battle: The word of mouth was crazy at the beginning. I remember going to my Baylor Scott & White pediatric clinic job and a mom coming in. Because I was a fill-in doctor, I was never anyone’s [primary care physician]. I was seeing someone for a sore throat or whatever, and she was like, ‘Are you Dr. Battle, the private parts doctor, who does Camp Careful?’ I said yes. She said, ‘How do we get on your secret email list?’ I said, ‘There’s a secret email list?’ She said, ‘The secret email list you need to get on to be invited to your classes.’ I said, ‘It’s not secret.’ It was my friends, and then I’d add more people as the years went by. It was a constant group email — ‘I’m gonna do Camp Careful, do y’all want to come?’ I had no idea [that perception was out there]. But it made me go, ‘OK, I guess I need to get an official place so people know where to come.’ That led [to a website], then Facebook.

WACOAN: I spoke with your colleague Sgt. Lundquist about how he got involved in this work, and he said, ‘A lot of people end up in this type of work kinda by accident, then they realize it is a calling and what drives them.’ How did you get here?

Battle: In med school we have to do a three-month rotation in community pediatrics. I did a rotation in Austin because that’s where I grew up. The pediatrician I followed happened to be the child sexual abuse examiner for the advocacy center in Austin, Texas. That was my first exposure to it.

When I was in residency in Galveston, for pediatrics, I remember shadowing physical abuse exams and sexual abuse exams and being just sad. It’s sad that there are kids hurt by people who love them. I remember thinking it was really interesting work because there’s the forensic part of child sexual abuse, there’s dealing with law enforcement, there’s dealing with CPS. The faculty physician in charge of child abuse pediatrics, his name was Dr. James Lukefahr.

Then we came to Waco. I took time off from practicing [medicine] and became involved in the community. That’s how I got into Junior League, and I think Junior League connected me with the Advocacy Center. Somehow I got on their board.

When I was on the board, Dr. Ann Sims, who is now retired, she did the exams for 20 years for the Advocacy Center — she was my mentor. Most of my training and mentoring came from her, the expert in this field in McLennan [County] and surrounding counties for years.

She approached me when I was on the board, probably 2011 or 2012, and said, ‘Eventually, I’ve got to retire. Would you consider taking over my position?’ I immediately said to her, ‘I’m pretty sure I’m meant to do that. But that sounds like a lot to me right now.’ She said, ‘I’m not retiring anytime soon.’ Then 2013-14, she approached me again and said, ‘I’m thinking of retiring soon because I don’t want to go into court and testify when I’m old, with a walker’ — because the cases can take awhile — ‘so do you think you’re ready?’

I talked to my husband. We talked about ‘How would you do that? Would you keep your job with Scott & White? How many hours would it be? Do you think you can handle that, mentally?’ Again, I was like, ‘I think I’m supposed to do this. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.’ All the things all lined up. I don’t think it was a coincidence that I shadowed the pediatrician in Austin who happens to have the same job I have now.

When I started training with Dr. Sims, she said to go to San Antonio to train because of two child abuse pediatricians there. One is nationally known, Dr. Nancy Kellogg at UT Health Science Center. The other was Dr. Lukefahr, also at UT San Antonio, my residency trainer in child abuse pediatrics. It came full circle. I feel like it was all meant to be.

I do peer review with Dr. Kellogg and Dr. Lukefahr with my [Advocacy Center] exam cases.

WACOAN: The reason I suggested doing the interview at Fabled was because a friend ran into you here in between court appearances, as the Advocacy Center’s medical adviser. What can you tell us about that part of your job?

Battle: When a child makes an outcry of alleged sexual abuse, they all get a forensic interview done at the Advocacy Center. Some of them will get a medical exam by me. Some will get a SAFE exam at the ER. It depends on how long ago the abuse happened. I do the delayed-outcry exams.

If and when a case goes to trial, there are only a few people who are allowed to say in court what the child’s words were to them. One is the initial outcry witness, the first person a child ever told about it. The second is me. The third is the child themselves.

An outcry witness may give testimony in cases of sexual abuse if they are an adult (18 or older) and the victim is 14 or under (or disabled), and they are the first person the victim tells about an offense. The outcry witness may definitely be a parent, forensic interviewer or counselor. But oftentimes the first person a child tells is another child. That testimony would not be allowed since it is not an adult who was the outcry witness.

The medical [professional] is allowed only if medical [examination] is done for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. That is why I get to go in and read almost verbatim what the child told me. That’s very important in court and at trial, to corroborate what a child has told other people.

Also these trials can take an average of two years to get to court, from the time they come in for their forensic interview and medical exam. Dr. Sims had some where she was going five to six years later to testify on a case. Especially when you have a child who did an interview when they were 5 or 6, by the time it goes to trial they may have forgotten details. We have young, young children [make an outcry]. It’s important that the medical [exam and testimony] has been documented. It gives exactly what the child said at the time. That’s important information to be given as evidence.

I’ve testified in maybe 10 [trials]. I only started doing exams four years ago, so I started testifying two years ago. I’ve gotten subpoenaed, and a lot of cases end up pleading out before I end up testifying.

I was nervous the first time and didn’t know what to expect, but it did help that Dr. Sims did have me come when she was testifying when I was training, so I watched and could see the process. She helped prepare me for it.

There’s always a sense of gratitude toward the DA’s office, law enforcement and everyone at the Advocacy Center for helping a child and their family get justice. The first initial response [after sentencing] is YES. I’m so glad there’s justice for the child and family and there’s some closure, and the person is getting the punishment they deserve. That’s my first response.

But then it sunk in recently — there was another one who was sentenced to a couple of life sentences, a couple of them. And again, no doubt that he was guilty and no doubt that he should be punished. But the weight of that, that he was getting sent to prison for the rest of his life, was heavy on me. I don’t know why. It’s a difficult thing to balance. No question about their guilt. It’s just the seriousness of what they’ve done and the seriousness of the consequences.

But when I’m thinking that, what makes me come back is to think about the child and the family, what they went through to get to this point. That’s where I have to end to feel better. I have to go back to the survivor and say [to myself], ‘They needed this.’

WACOAN: You left Baylor Scott & White this spring?

Battle: Yes. When I worked there I was always part time. I was locum tenens [fill-in]. I was two times a week, Tuesday, Thursday, since I joined them in 2009, which was perfect. Then I took the job doing child sexual abuse exams in 2015. I still stayed on doing two times a week, but as the Advocacy Center [job] got busier, I dropped down to once a week. I also became medical adviser [at the Advocacy Center] last November. Then as I joined the Waco Foundation Board or other organizations, I said, ‘Just call me when you need me.’ And that turned into not very often because I couldn’t coordinate schedules. I officially stopped in April 2019, but I think I hadn’t worked in three or four months prior to that.

So I’m not officially practicing true pediatric medicine anymore.

WACOAN: The Wacoan did a ‘Keeping Balance’ interview with you back in 2012. In it, you said, ‘I like seeing kids with things that I can fix.’ I find that really interesting considering what you’re doing now.

Battle: At the time I did love being in the sick-visit setting where you go into urgent care, you fix a broken bone. They have an asthma attack, you give ’em medicine, they start feeling better, and then you’re done. You feel like you did something to help, and then they go home.

The job that I have now, I may not necessarily be fixing anything. But I definitely feel that everyone at the Advocacy Center, myself included, feels a sense of we are doing something to make a big difference. Even if they are children who come in broken and sad and traumatized in some way, I think every single person in there has a passion and a dedication to make sure that whatever they’re doing to give services is making a difference, and we feel like we are. I can say that, without a doubt, for every person in that agency — from case managers, to forensic interviewers, to counselors, to SAFE nurses, to administrators who are helping us get grants and making the place run — every one of us knows ultimately what we’re doing is helping victims of crime, men, women and children who have been victimized in some way.

So even if they’re not fixed, I know I have a sense of, ‘OK, I did something good. I did something that hopefully will help this kid when they leave.’ That can be something as simple as a kid that’s sitting there crying on the couch to me, making an outcry, to them smiling and hugging me at the end of my exam.

WACOAN: That’s hopeful.

Battle: Absolutely.

WACOAN: What is the procedure when you are doing a medical exam?

Battle: When I start an exam (I’ve got one at 12:30) I still feel like I’m doing medicine, I’m doing pediatric medicine. They’re in a child-friendly room. I tell them what the exam’s gonna be like. I tell them it’s not going to be scary because I don’t do any shots. I don’t do anything that hurts.

I still feel like in that moment, before I start, I’m doing my bubbly pediatrician thing. In that moment for one of these sexual abuse exams I still feel like this is me being a normal pediatrician, me being a kid doctor and helping them. Then it goes into what it is, [the physical and sexual exam of the child].

But at the end of it, whether it is a really hard story to listen to that day or something really difficult for the child, still at the end I feel like, ‘OK, that was good.’ I feel like we got something done to help them, no matter how hard it is. That may be me trying to convince myself to still stay sane. I don’t know. We all tell ourselves, ‘That was really hard, that was terrible to have to listen to a child having to go through that,’ but we take a deep breath, ‘OK, now they’re moving on. They’re a survivor, they’re gonna get better, they’re gonna get counseling. This is gonna be OK.’

WACOAN: When you talk about sexual abuse in the community, what is the general reaction?

Battle: The good news is there’s a lot more awareness. There’s a lot more talking about the subject, which is great. But I think parents still need to learn how to talk about it. I think that’s the big thing is parents don’t know how to talk about it because most of our parents never talked to us about it. Ever.

I know my parents never talked to me about it when I was little, and certainly when I went off to college, I had friends — you hear the statistics of college sexual assault — and I’m lucky that never happened to me, but I certainly knew people.

If we could equip our sons and daughters on how to have safe relationships, interactions, that would be huge. I think starting young with this entire topic is so important because it instills good views of children’s bodies and boundaries at an early age. It teaches them that they have control over their bodies at a young age, and that then translates as they get older to how do I then respect someone else’s body and boundaries?

If they don’t learn that at a young age and instead they’re exposed to media and movies and violence and pornography, then that is what’s teaching them what a relationship and body awareness is. That should not be teaching our kids those values. But unfortunately that is often what it is because parents aren’t talking about it.

WACOAN: What roadblocks do you run into with Camp Careful?

Battle: I still want to be able to find a way to reach lower income school districts or groups because they unfortunately don’t know about Camp Careful as much.

Waco ISD has contacted me a couple of times about doing small talks, but they have not figured out how to get that to happen. We’re having a hard time trying to get to a community that doesn’t know me personally. That would be my goal still, to reach all parts of Waco.

WACOAN: You’ve done a couple of Camp Careful classes out of town. Do you want to expand beyond Waco?

Battle: I have gone to Dallas. Someone came to Camp Careful, and she was a member of Park Cities Presbyterian Church. She told their youth minister [about me], and I went up and did a full day of classes. I’m going to First Baptist Weatherford on Sunday.

I’ve been contacted by Junior League of San Antonio. I’ve been contacted by someone from a church community in San Antonio to come. It hasn’t ever happened. I’ve had multiple people in Austin, friends from Westlake, ask if I could come. I say, ‘You have to do a little bit of the legwork. See if there’s enough interest. You have to find a place for me and pick a date,’ and it doesn’t ever go anywhere.

WACOAN: So you’re open, it’s just all the logistics.

Battle: It’s always the logistics.

WACOAN: Why does Camp Careful sell out?

Battle: It’s the younger kids’ classes that sell out first. There’s always new generations of moms and toddlers. Especially young toddler moms who maybe aren’t aware of how to talk about that stuff, and they love coming to Camp Careful to hear how to do it and then they leave thinking, ‘If I was hesitant about signing up for that, I’m so glad I did it because it was so not what I was afraid it would be.’

They worry, as young parents, that I’m gonna talk about sex, but surprisingly I don’t, even though it’s about protecting children from child sexual abuse. I’m really teaching them about how to be safe in all ways. I talk about how to be safe when you get lost, how to be safe around strangers, how to protect your body. I don’t say what it is specifically that I’m trying to protect them from. It’s a different way to talk about it with kids so that parents are like, ‘Oh, I just need to teach them to be safe.’ They’re always glad to hear different ways to approach it with their children.

Maybe then they come back the next year and hear something different, maybe something they didn’t think about when their kid was 3, but now that they’re 4 or 5 and going to preschool, they think, ‘Oh, well that’s something we didn’t even think about.’ I always tell the younger kids’ parents to bring them back every year because they hear something different. They’ll pick up on something as they go through different life experiences, and it makes more sense to them.

It’s the same with the 7-12 class. That class often fills up.

The teenager class, that’s hard to fill up when I’m just putting it out into the community for parents to sign up because parents don’t think their kids want to go, and they don’t. Teenagers do not want to go to a class like that. That class does not fill up except for the first round that I did, and again, that was all my children’s friends’ parents who brought their teenagers and made them come. And again, they found it so useful and great information for parents to hear, especially with their teenagers.

The teenage classes, it’s usually in a group setting, like National Charity League, Young Men’s Service League. I’ve done high school assembles — Vanguard [College Preparatory School], Eagle Christian [Academy]. With teenagers, that’s a great way to do it because everyone’s there and they have to go.

WACOAN: You’re also training adults, like the sessions you and Sgt. Lundquist did for Midway ISD staff.

Battle: The [school district] asked, ‘Can you and someone from the Advocacy Center and the detectives talk to us about how to report and what to look for, how y’all work with us, and how we work as a team to help children?’’ That was great, talking to all the assistant principals on one day and all the counselors two days later.

Sgt. Lundquist, Kim Clark (who used to be a detective and now she’s a special investigator with CPS), the three of us did a presentation at the Child S.A.F.E. Conference. I did a Mentor Waco [Coalition] training just this past Saturday with Chelsa Ressetar. We talked about being aware, being involved if your children have Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook. So many things are inherently dangerous about that, that we didn’t have to deal with when we were children and teenagers. Because we didn’t have it, parents are very unaware of what is out there.

A lot of parents say, ‘Well, I trust my kids.’ That’s great. I trust my kids too, but in the job that I have, I know that it doesn’t matter how great your kids are or how trustworthy they are. The dangers come at them, and they don’t know how to protect themselves if you’re not teaching them and you’re not watching out for them.

WACOAN: I heard you’re starting a puberty class.

Battle: I offered that for the first time [to the public] November 17, and that one sold out. That started when the mothers of my daughter’s friends — they’ve all been to Camp Careful when our girls were younger. They said, ‘You need to do a puberty class when our girls get older.’ I always meant to do that but didn’t end up coming up with some curriculum until St. Paul’s [Episcopal School] asked me to do it for their school.

I do Camp Careful at St. Paul’s every year. It’s M’Lissa Howen, she’s head of school, she said, ‘Can you talk to our [age] 8-11 girls and boys separately and talk to them about puberty, body changes, hygiene, things like that?’ That was great! It’s such a small setting in a private school that they were able to ask so many questions, and they did. They weren’t embarrassed.

It’s funny because all of this information is available on the internet. I think they like that I’m a pediatrician. I think that gives weight to what I say. Being a pediatrician, I have a connection with children, obviously. I hope.

WACOAN: That’s what I hear.

Battle: I think I have a very straightforward way of giving information. I’ve been like that with my friends, and I’ve been like that with children. I don’t feel like we have to dance around issues. At all. I’m very straightforward.

I know for sure teenagers appreciate that. Parents appreciate that you can do that and it doesn’t have to be in a way that’s scary. It doesn’t have to be in a way that’s giving kids too much information. You can still be straightforward and give kids information they need. Sometimes parents worry that if they give them the facts, that’s too much for a child, but it can be done in a developmentally appropriate way. If they’re asking questions and curious, it’s better for you to give them facts and information, otherwise they’re gonna get it from somebody else, who’s another 10-year-old, giving them the wrong information.

I have a story about that.

WACOAN: Yes!

Battle: I remember being in the car, taking my son, [Sam], and a friend who was a year older and a friend who was a year younger. They were my closest friends’ children. The older one, the 10-year-old said something about a friend at school who said his mom was having a baby. [The 10-year-old said,] ‘But I know he’s a liar.’ I was listening, and I said, ‘Why is he a liar?’ and [the 10-year-old] said, ‘Because his mom’s not married, and there’s no way she could be pregnant if she’s not married.’ The 9-year-old was like, ‘Yeah, what a liar!’

Can you imagine? And these are my best friends’ children in the back seat. [The moms] have no problem with me saying something, but I’m still not gonna teach that lesson in my car without their permission.

So all I said was, ‘Sam, what do you think about that?’ He said, ‘That’s not true! You don’t have to be married to be pregnant.’ I said, ‘Sam, I just want to make sure you understand what we’ve talked about,’ and I said to the other two boys, ‘Y’all go ask your parents when you get home. Ask them about that because that’s not what I’ve taught Sam.’ And I said, ‘And Sam, you don’t need to tell them.’

Of course, when I got there, I texted my two friends, like ‘FYI! This is the conversation we just had.’ They were appalled. They were laughing. They were like, ‘How can they think that?’ and I was like, ‘They just do. They hear it from their friends or whatever reason it is. And it’s not that you taught them the wrong thing. It’s probably just that they heard from someone else. That’s where they learn. They learn from whoever’s teaching them. It should be at home where it’s accurate and consistent with your values versus what some other kid’s gonna tell them.

WACOAN: Your kids have grown up with you doing this work, and now they are in high school and middle school. How have they expanded your understanding of these issues?

Battle: Because our lines of communication are very open in our home, because they’ve been listening to Camp Careful since they were 4, and they’ve been to a million Camp Carefuls, they know we talk about private stuff. We’re not embarrassed about it, and if you have questions, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about anything. We’re very open about lots of different topics.

We talk to our children as if we know. We know what’s going on, so there’s no point in hiding anything. They will come to me and tell me about things they’re seeing their friends do, and saying, ‘Mom, guess what?’ They tell us because they are always aware that I already know. They don’t feel like they need to hide anything — I mean, I’m sure they hide things — but they don’t feel like there’s stuff we can’t talk about because I’ve already talked to them about a lot of stuff.

A lot of my kids’ friends are following me on Instagram, so I’m just gonna put [information] out there and let them know that I know these are dangers. You can choose to listen to me or not, but here’s the information. When I post these articles, I have so many kids following the story. I will do Instagram posts where you have to follow five different pictures, and the teenagers are following it to the end. Teenagers actually want to know. We have to reach them where they’re at. For teenagers, it’s social media.

I’m not your parent. I’m not gonna lecture you, but I’m gonna tell you the facts about sexual abuse. If something happens, a friend might tell you — here’s what you should do. If something’s happened to you and you don’t know what to do, you should talk to somebody.

These are things you’re gonna get exposed to — drinking at parties, relationships, watching pornography. All that stuff is out there, so I talk to them about it in advance. Whereas I think a lot of parents think, ‘I’ll deal with that if that’s our problem,’ but then they don’t realize it’s their problem.

Because teenagers are teenagers. They’re gonna do stuff and hide it from parents. The consequences these days, there’s a lot more immediacy of the dangers because of digital technology, social media. The dangers are there, and they can be immediate and pretty serious, and parents aren’t aware of it. That’s the problem.

WACOAN: Your husband, Jake Battle, is also a doctor. What’s it like having two M.D.s in the house?

Battle: Yes, my husband, Jake, is at Coryell Health, now in Gatesville most days, with clinics in Waco and Clifton on Thursdays. He had a wonderful 13 years with a great orthopedic group in Waco and was ready for a change. That change came with better hours (no call and no weekends), which has been nice for our family.

Two doctors in the house does make for longer or more unusual work hours and lots of informal ‘consults’ from friends and acquaintances, but we enjoy it. We’ll see if one of our kids follows in our footsteps or not. We certainly aren’t pushing them to go into medicine or any particular field.

WACOAN: Let’s talk about running.

Battle: Love running. It is definitely a release for me, running and exercise. I’ve had my ups and downs with running. I think I started in college, running a lot. Running in Galveston when I was in med school and residency. Loved doing that.

When we first moved to Waco, before I started at Scott & White, I started doing half-marathons and getting friends to run with me, doing triathlons. The triathlon thing ended quickly because I hated swimming. The biking part ended quickly because my friends and I were on a bike ride once, and [one woman] almost got hit by a car. That scared all of us, so we got rid of that. I was still back to running. I did a lot of halfs.

Most of my friends will listen to music when they’re running; I don’t. I don’t want any noise. My brain has to be clear. I tune everything out. I tune out all the background, and I’m just in the zone.

WACOAN: You run with your friend Lindsay Bawduniak, and she said you gave her a great tour of Waco. That was 12 or 13 years ago, before it was cool to love Waco.

Battle: Growing up in Austin, I loved Austin when I grew up there, but now it’s a big city. I just love Waco because it’s the perfect size. There’s such a great sense of community and fellowship and people looking out for each other.

When my husband said, ‘I’m gonna interview in Waco, Texas,’ I looked at him like he was crazy. Especially growing up in Austin. I’m like, ‘Waco? You mean the place we stop for gas on the way to Dallas? Like that Waco?’ My tour guides were Linda Ethridge, who was the actual mayor, and Nancy Goodnight, who was essentially the mayor. They were pillars of the community, but they were the partners’ wives of [Waco Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Clinic]. They were the best tour guides. I saw all the beautiful parts of Waco, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around moving to Waco. I had a migraine the day they gave me the tour. But we did it, and we love it. I don’t it regret it at all.

WACOAN: Last question: What do you need from Waco?

Battle: For Camp Careful or the Advocacy Center?

WACOAN: Both.

Battle: The biggest thing with Camp Careful that I would love is more awareness with different groups of people in different demographics. I wish there was a way to reach more children and more families. I still haven’t quite figured out how to do that. I think as there’s more classes that I do, maybe other people will see, ‘She talks at Midway ISD. Could she come talk to Waco ISD? Could she talk to Connally ISD?’ The more I do stuff, the more people will see and say, ‘Can we bring that to our children?’

I’m still looking for ways to reach more children. I would love it if parents would contact their school districts to let them know they want me to come speak to their children. School assemblies are a great way for me to reach the masses, but it takes the initiative of parents contacting their school counselors or principals to invite me.

Parents are often worried that I’m talking about sex in these talks, but I’m not. I’m talking about how kids can keep themselves safe and have healthy boundaries for their bodies. I hope parents will be open-minded to the idea of talking about children’s bodies in a safe and healthy way. It could protect them if they were to ever find themselves in an unsafe situation in the future.

For the Advocacy Center, there’s been a lot more awareness of the Advocacy Center and community support, and that’s been fantastic. We got into a new building last year, and we had a lot of support to reach that goal. We’ve had lots of community support with the different organizations that we work with — law enforcement agencies, CPS, school districts. We have a lot of great collaboration, but we always still need financial support from the community because of course we are a nonprofit.

There’s support — a lot of things over the upcoming holiday season. We have family adoptions. A lot of our families aren’t able to provide a lot of Christmas gifts. They can sign up by contacting us at the Advocacy Center. We are doing a teddy bears and blankets drive, starting in November through the end of December. We are always running low on stuffed animals because we give every child who comes for an interview or a medical exam a stuffed animal. And a lot of them need blankets or coats. There will be 10 locations across town. That information is on social media. Then, of course, financial donations. Support our events, like Designer Purse Bingo, December 8, and then Mardi Gras Ball, the end of February.

WACOAN: Anything else?

Battle: What I do is all-consuming. It takes over everything. I’m always thinking about this. Everything I do outside of my family and friends is thinking about this and how we can change things or make things better and help people. I almost catch myself saying, ‘Quit talking about it,’ when I’m with friends or at functions. I’m always wanting to talk about it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done Camp Careful talks and looked out into the audience of children and seen kids looking down and avoiding eye contact when others are engaging in my talks. Those are the kids I worry about, and those are the kids I hope reach out to somebody if they have something they need to tell. I have had several children come up to me after Camp Careful and tell me they were abused before, but that they got help. I also have had a few that ask vague questions about ‘theoretical’ situations, and I give them the best advice I can. Usually that involves asking their school counselor or a family member for help.

All children

Children like Julia who get help eventually grow up. They don’t forget the abuse, even if they try. But through the intervention of Dr. Soo and the Advocacy Center, they live good lives.

What makes Waco unique is it’s small enough that if you want to make a difference, you can just do it. And it’s big enough that you can get other people involved. When Soo Battle saw a need, she stepped in and filled it and invited the rest of us to help fill it too.

Sometimes the work is hard. Sometimes she needs to grab a cup of Muggle Mocha at Fabled between court hearings to get through. But she’ll be OK.

As she said on the Camp Careful blog, “As for me, I’ll be fine. Those spontaneous emissions from my eyes? They dry up. The pressure feeling on my chest? Squeezing hugs from friends somehow make the pressure go away.”

What does Dr. Soo want us to do for the Julias of the world? On the blog, she tells us:

“What about the children? They become SURVIVORS, not VICTIMS. What can you do for them? Watch for the emotional and psychological signs. Pay attention. PRAY PRAY PRAY for them. SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT the Advocacy Center. We can’t keep providing services to these young survivors without your help. Make a donation today at www.advocacycntr.org. Make a difference. Save a child. Be a part of the change.”

Our kids need all of us. Not just Dr. Soo.

If you suspect a child has been sexually abused, call the Waco Police Department’s Crimes Against Children unit at 254/752-2600. Or call the Department of Family and Protective Services’ 24-hour hotline at 800/252-5400. The Advocacy Center’s toll-free hotline is 888/867-7233 and 254/752-7233 for Spanish.

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