Guest Blogger Griselda Gines, B.S., Public Health, Shares Her Journey Story

This past fall, Cal State Northridge Intern Griselda Gines researched external professional development opportunities for the MTSE team. She has expressed to us that this internship allowed her to reflect upon the importance of sexual health education, and to understand that comprehensive sex ed includes a broad scope of issues. She has written this deeply personal blog post in which she shares her personal truth, which has helped to heal and strengthen her. We’ve loved having Griselda as part of our team, and we are certain she will continue to advocate for healthy conversations about sex. TW: child sexual abuse, sexual assault, miscarriage I grew up in a strict Catholic Mexican household in which, as a woman, we had daily chores to do and were expected to behave a certain way. Every Sunday we attended mass and had dinner at 6pm everyday followed by chores and our favorite telenovelas. At an early age, my two sisters and I knew when there was anything sexual being displayed on TV; we had to look away. My grandmother took care of her 7 grandkids until I was six years old. After that my sisters and I would stay home alone until my parents came home.

Guest Blogger Griselda Gines, B.S., Public Health, Shares Her Journey Story
A friendly young woman with long brown hair, and brown skin looks directly at the camera

 This past fall, Cal State Northridge Intern Griselda Gines researched external professional development opportunities for the MTSE team. She has expressed to us that this internship allowed her to reflect upon the importance of sexual health education, and to understand that comprehensive sex ed includes a broad scope of issues. She has written this deeply personal blog post in which she shares her personal truth, which has helped to heal and strengthen her. We’ve loved having Griselda as part of our team, and we are certain she will continue to advocate for healthy conversations about sex.

TW: child sexual abuse, sexual assault, miscarriage

I grew up in a strict Catholic Mexican household in which, as a woman, we had daily chores to do and were expected to behave a certain way. Every Sunday we attended mass and had dinner at 6pm everyday followed by chores and our favorite telenovelas. At an early age,  my two sisters and I  knew when there was anything sexual being displayed on TV; we had to look away. My grandmother took care of her 7 grandkids until I was six years old. After that my sisters and I would stay home alone until my parents came home. 

My first unwanted sexual experience happened when I was eight years old. A family member decided it was ok to touch an eight year old. For a long time I felt ashamed and I didn’t understand what had occurred or why. I didn’t even question that this wasn’t normal until my later years. I never told anyone, not even my sisters. It's something we don’t speak about, but if I recall, the same thing happened to them. 

I began developing when I was 10 years old and I felt uncomfortable with my own body. I had my first period when I was 12 years old. I remember crying in the restroom until my mother found me. She instructed me to get into the shower. Soon after my older sister came inside and told me to put on a pad. This was the short version of the puberty/menstrual cycle talk. Isn't it comical? 

The boys I was dating wanted sex at an early age and all I could do was change the topic…

I didn’t know when I would get the sex talk.  All my parents said was, “If you get pregnant you’ll be on your own.” I saw many girls in my school become pregnant at an early age or have an abortion. If anything, I was terrified about sex and everything it would bring. I was scared of shaming my parents…of getting pregnant. I was ashamed of them finding out I was having sex and overall ashamed of myself for letting it happen …

I always took the bus to school. First it was a short commute and then after it was longer. During my high school years I opened up and began caring about my appearance and would wake up extra early to get ready. On my commute to school I remember men staring at me, hollering and eventually trying to touch me while riding the bus. I could feel this one man's hand trying to caress my leg as I was holding on to the rail. The more I shifted the more I felt his hand. All I felt was his hot hand on my leg and a strong urge to vomit. I have to say this was not the only time, but that it was my first encounter. After that it continued happening. After a certain point I didn't really try to dress up and I would try to look tougher hoping this would stop. 

I disappointed my parents at the age of 22 when I became pregnant with my first child. The moment I found out I felt a huge knot in my stomach because I knew at some point I had to tell my parents. My boyfriend and I went to speak to my parents. When I told them I was pregnant my father looked away and said, “You have ruined your life.” I was ashamed because I knew I had failed them. They had expected me to finish college and get married and in their eyes I had ruined it. 

Months passed and one night at 16 weeks I felt so much pain in my stomach, I went to the ER and was told my baby had no heartbeat. 

All I did was cry, my face was so swollen from crying, but I didn't care. I had to deliver my baby. This night was the most terrible night. Nothing can compare to losing a child, especially one I didn't get to meet. After my miscarriage my family became closer. They knew the huge loss I was feeling. They were caring and loving throughout everything. 

Now that I am about to turn 25, life is definitely different. After all my struggles, my family and I have become closer than we have ever been. We talk about issues we have never talked about and now I feel the support I should have felt growing up. Throughout these events we have found solace in each other and our unity as a family. We understand that each member of the family has gone through their struggles and passions and we continue to work together to be better. 

Although my life was very eventful, I managed to survive and become grateful for becoming the person I am. There are many things I have learned with everything that occurred.  

The lesson I learned from the lack of open communication from my parents is that the sex talk isn’t just about having sex. It’s about consent, being comfortable with your own body, and also that there are so many layers to sex that need to be discussed to create a well rounded individual. I believe talking about sex is needed because a person should not feel uncomfortable and terrified to speak about their own experiences. Parents should be aware of situations such as harassment and abuse that are out of their control. If issues like this do occur, it would be better if their child is open to speaking about their problems with them.