Abuse Based on Physical Ability

What is "able body-ism"?

Ablebody-ism is chronic discrimination against a person because they have a lowered range of motion or are wheelchair bound, immobile, handicapped, disabled, etc. It is much like racism or class-ism and often goes unnoticed. In the United States, the media still abounds with images of what our ideal physical standards "should be." Motion pictures rarely, if ever, feature the leading lady or man in a wheelchair or a dynamic CEO with one hand or leg. Although there has been increased awareness and some legislative improvement, there is still very little literature that exists which actually affirms individuals with different ability levels than those that are considered "the norm". There is also a false assumption that those who appear to have a physical disadvantage have less sexual drive than "normal" people. Since sex is as much a mental and emotional experience as it is physical for many people, sexual libido/activity is not related to a person's physical ability or handicap.

Many people within the BDSM community overlook the needs of those who are physically challenged. There is also the misconception that someone cannot be a Dominant, Mistress, Master or Daddy if they have a physical disability or are wheelchair bound. This is not true. Each person is an individual and has their own identity, preferences and needs. Negotiate with new partners to determine their identity and interests – do not assume them.

Discrimination also occurs when organizations or groups do not try to accommodate the needs of their members or attendees by providing (and advertising) wheelchair accessible play and meeting spaces, remove obstacles for those who must navigate with a wider range of physical space, are on crutches or who use a cane, place medical supplies within reach of everyone whether sitting or standing, and provide bathroom facilities for those that may have different ability needs than others. Everyone who is a "differently-abled" person is entitled to the same safety and peace of mind considerations that any other individual receives. People with physical restrictions/disabilities do not deserve to receive discrimination, abuse or ridicule in any form.

What is considered abusive to or with a disabled person?

Since mainstream society is still not fully accepting of physical differences in abilities in general, many moral and social judgments are still commonplace. Abuse and domestic violence within BDSM relationships are frequently overlooked, discounted, tolerated or accepted because there appears to be no public support or there is the fear of losing the disabled person's caretaker and of becoming more confined or restricted than they already are. Abusive behaviors towards the differently-abled often comes in the form of restricted support, exclusion or invalidation of their contributions or involvement. Random House Webster's Dictionary defines abuse as "to use wrongly or improperly" and "to treat in a harmful, injurious or offensive way." Abuse can and does occur to the able and disabled alike, and if the partners are or have been intimates, then it is considered domestic violence. In either case each party should get help quickly.

What does abuse based on age look like?

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Dr. Gloria Glickstein Brame
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