Yolanda Méndez, abused by her uncle and brought illegally from Mexico to the U.S., is on the path to recovery

George Holden, psychologist and professor at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, talks about the legacies and recovery process from abuse.

Staff Writer

The wishes have been made; the candles have been blown out. It’s Sunday afternoon, and the birthday girl, wearing her best dress and a plastic tiara, skips into her mother’s lap.

“Who is Mommy’s prettiest girl in the world?” Yolanda Méndez, the 24-year-old mother, asks in Spanish. Aidelin, who has just turned 7, kisses her mother’s forehead to answer her. “My special girl,” Yolanda whispers.

 Aidelin has no idea why her mother calls her that. She doesn’t know that she is the daughter of a man who repeatedly raped her mother during Yolanda’s childhood. He kidnapped her from Oaxaca, Mexico, and brought her to the United States to be a prisoner of his physical and sexual abuse....

It’s impossible for Aidelin to know the truth, experts say. Still, it’s common for babies who fled from abuse with their mothers to feel a special bond. They experience trauma with their parent, and they know that they share something special, says SMU psychology professor George Holden.