In honour of U.K. Sexual Health Week September 16-22nd, I am writing a few posts discussing the barriers people with disabilities face to intimacy – not just sex but general relationships. There’s many things that complicate intimate relationships as disabled people so here’s some, please check my blog again later in September to see the other posts I’ve published. Hopefully they’ll be helpful or at least informative!
Barriers to intimacy in disability;
Confidence is one of the major barriers to any kind of intimacy for anybody. If you don’t like yourself, how can you expect others to? A lot of the time the world tells us that we aren’t good enough,especially as disabled people,so it can make you feel like you don’t deserve love or nobody will want you. It may seem silly,but when you’re taught that being disabled is a bad thing, you assume you’re a bad thing. Becoming more confident and focusing on the good parts of who you are can change so many things in your life. You deserve love like anybody else. You are good enough to be loved. I know how scary it is,but everyone deserves to be happy. Disabled or not.
Relationships, dating and sex all take so much physical and mental energy. A lot of the time living as a disabled person can be very taxing! So who has motivation to go on dates that may not work out or have sex that might not feel good?! Some healthy people don’t even have that! Yet as humans we need people, even just friends,so the energy is worth it eventually. Relationships are a good way of feeling like you belong,but nobody HAS to do anything like that. I’ve personally had years at my sickest when I was just like okay I cannot put the energy I have to into a relationship,and that’s OKAY.
Insecurity is just a part of being human. Again – when the world teaches you that you’re not good enough it makes you have very low self esteem. Whether you’re insecure about who you are or the way you look – it can be major to how others perceive you because it makes you shy away from the world. Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you don’t have good things about you, maybe you have a nice butt or nice eyes, or you’re really smart or funny! Disabled people can be sexy too. There’s people into all sorts and usually you care more about your insecurity than others do because they’re too busy being insecure too!
Communication is a hard part of sex for anyone. It can be hard to engage in the conversations. Discussing health and disability can be a super hard conversation, people often worry that they’ll scare the person off, and many of us don’t fully understand what our bodies can do anyway so it’s hard to express. Communication is so important during relationships, especially sex with anybody who had a disability/health condition, even if it’s because they just have anxiety. People need to know that they’ll be supported,and the other person needs to know what to expect too, because imagine having sex with someone and then their hip just randomly pops out? That could be scary if you weren’t expecting it! I know with my boyfriend I had to literally tell him how hard he can hug me and show him I’m not going to scream. Having these conversations can change a lot in a relationship, and while it’s important to remember that not everyone may be able to accept your needs, that simply means they aren’t the right person for you! You deserve someone who will support and accept you for you!
Access To Sexual Heakth Services
Sexual health & education services are often not accessible for disabled people. Sometimes it’s pure access needs but mostly it’s stigma. Disabled people aren’t seen as sexual beings an and it causes major challenges for us. If anything we need extra of both those things because the risks for everything are higher for us. It’s said that 50% of disabled people surveyedsay that they received no SexEd at school. Those with severe disabilities are not exposed to the same everyday situations in which other young people learn about sex. They often also lack the ability and privacy to experiment with their own bodies. This needs to change. There’s tiny things that could change to give people the chance to receive sexual health care. It’s not right. Talk about stigma much?!
If you have faced barriers, please tell me more below, I’m super interested in whether young disabled people missed out on sex education?