Recently, two peer mentors from the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA produced an eight-minute video called Spinal Cord Injury and Intimacy because they were tired of the lack of resources when it came to talking about sex, intimacy and love. In it, men and women with spinal cord injuries talk about their experiences with intimacy in a stream of beautifully candid answers to the questions many people have. Each person interviewed comes from different backgrounds and are of varying ages.
Here is the video’s description:
Genuine intimacy in human relationships requires dialogue, transparency, vulnerability, and reciprocity. Intimacy combines passion, commitment, friendship, and love creating a desire for ongoing close interaction. Intimate relationships are social, intellectual, spiritual and can be physical. They support work, leisure, and learning. Unfortunately, at a time of catastrophe like Spinal Cord Injury, diminished body image, self-worth and therefore probability of success in developing intimate relationships, might lead one to believe their time would be better spent learning how to be “comfortably alone.” This can create a great sadness. Hear from these peoples’ experiences coping with intimacy impairment after Spinal Cord Injury.
You can watch the video below:
More on the project:
Pete Anziano, (Pictured below) Manager of the Peer Mentoring Program at Shepherd answered a few questions for us about the video. His heartfelt answers are eye-opening.
Q: How did this project come to light?
Pete: Over the years working in Peer Support at Shepherd CenterMinna Hong (another peer support coordinator) and I have become aware of a major impact people’s ability to feel safe with vulnerability…Intimacy. The capacity to bear one’s self entirely. We wanted to do something to address this so people would not feel alone with the challenges they’re facing with
intimacy after Spinal Cord Injury. So we interviewed over a dozen individuals and couples living with SCI.
Q: How long did the project take?
Pete: We spent a week preparing interview concepts and contacting potential subjects. Then, we conducted all the interviews in 2 days. This gave us 12 hours of footage to whittle into an 8-minute video. We spent two weeks reducing hours of video to the best statements on the participants’ feelings about intimacy… and then how disability affected intimacy in their lives. We assembled these moments to tell a story of intimacy’s value in the human experience…regardless of physical ability.
Q: What is the video being used for?
Pete: The video is being used in Shepherd Center’s sexual education sessions as a conversation starter. Witnessing others baring their hearts seems to open people to discuss a very guarded subject during a very fragile time. It has also been posted to social media to broaden our reach to community members who may be facing the same challenges.
Q: What do you hope the outcomes of this production are?
Pete: The hope is to soften the blow to the hearts of SCI community members facing their own intimacy issues by exposing them to folks who have already made it over the hump. Also we hope to inspire people who are hesitant to be emotionally vulnerable, to let go of the hesitation… and go for it! We’re all human and we flourish in our lives when we’re able to share intimacy. We also hope to humanize the patients in the eyes of clinicians to help them see beyond the anatomy.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury and brain injury.
For much more on sex and intimacy see this link on our FacingDisability.com website https://goo.gl/tVDNDM