Sexuality and Disability

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 499–513 | Cite as

Sexual Experiences of Adults with Physical Disabilities: Negotiating with Sexual Partners

  • Shanna K. Kattari
Original Paper


People with disabilities have unique experiences negotiating their sexual needs and desires with their partners. The current lack of research on sexual partner negotiations and conversations around disability demonstrates the need for further research in this area. This study examines the experiences of nine adults with physical disabilities regarding negotiations with their current, former and potential sexual partners about sexual activities. Using a phenomenological approach, this study focuses on adults with physical disabilities, ages 25–50, who live in the metro area of a city in the Southwest, and who self identify as having at least one physical disability. The emergent themes of being defined by disability, partner connection, representation of self, and kink as communication, demonstrate some of the distinctive aspects of sexual negotiation experienced by people with disabilities. By providing a better understanding of how people with disabilities experience sexual conversations and negotiations, it is hoped that this study will serve to inform and strengthen how social workers are able to support clients with disabilities in all facets of their lives, including sexuality and relationships.


Sexuality Disability Partner negotiations Sexual experiences Phenomenological research Social work 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Social WorkUniversity of DenverDenverUSA

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