Disability and rehabilitation

United States of America: Cheri Blauwet

Cheri Blauwet acquired spinal cord injury in her childhood. She writes about what dating and sexuality mean for a woman with a disability

I acquired a T10 spinal cord injury when I was very young and because of this, being a wheelchair user was a natural part of my life.

Growing up in a rural part of the U.S., I felt comfortable with myself and had a very positive self-identity, however I was never sure if I would find a partner and often felt discouraged about not dating as much as my friends, etc.

Now in my mid-30’s, I am in a loving, stable relationship and plan to be married in the coming year.

Looking back, I realize that the only limitations I truly faced are the ones I placed on myself due to a lack of self-confidence regarding dating and sexuality.

As a woman with a disability, I had to be even more open, up-front, honest, and confident with men because there were many questions inherent to the process, such as “How will this work?” “Can you have sex?”

Once these questions were answered – then things proceeded naturally as they would with any relationship!

I know that in many parts of the world, women with disabilities face ongoing stigma and devaluation, which create challenges toward establishing healthy relationships.

We have to continue to teach others about our amazing beauty, value, and self-worth.