We're all about inclusion, so we wanted to take time to answer some of your questions about sexuality, disability & BDSM. As there seems to be a grey zone when it comes to understanding how to practice BDSM safely with a disability, we got our writer Abi Brown to answer some of your questions.

Sexuality, disability and BDSM - Kink with chronic back pain 

Hello Abi,
I have a chronic pain condition, and one trick I have for dealing with my disability in my daily life is that I try to work with it rather than against it. So, for example, I concentrate on physical activities (designed rather than adapted) for people with a disability. I also try to practice mindfulness and meditation techniques to learn from my body rather than always trying to overcome it. I used to be involved with the kink community back before my condition developed, and while I had no interest in sex or BDSM for a while, I’m finding that my libido is returning and my desire for BDSM - particularly submission - along with it. How can I work this general coping mechanism into the way I engage with my sexuality like I do the other aspects of my life?
With cautious curiosity,
Wannabe Holistic

Hi Wannabe Holistic,
Two main things spring to mind. BDSM submission has taught me a few techniques for processing pain that I wouldn’t have otherwise. They’ve proven useful in all manner of situations that aren’t just about sex. You might find that your existing techniques have set you up well to explore BDSM and impact play, and you might also see that the things you learn along the way are also useful during a flare-up of your condition.

The other is that it would be a shame to underestimate the power of the endorphin. Endorphins are immensely useful when processing discomfort, and they’re also a great way to help combat the emotional impact of chronic pain. Many people find that BDSM helps them feel an endorphin high - so it’s worth experimenting to see how that can work for you. I too am a firm believer in a holistic approach to life. I’ve long been fascinated by the number of transferrable skills participation in kink can give you. In my experience, though, they’re mostly things you need to learn by doing - so start searching for what you want, and let your mindfulness of the situation show you how to draw it all together. Keep experimenting! 


Sexuality, disability and BDSM - Kink with an anxiety disorder

Dear Abi,
I’ve recently started dating someone new, and we’re currently negotiating how we’d like to explore BDSM by way of a D/s relationship. We don’t want the 24/7 total power exchange (TPE) stuff, but we’re interested in having some aspects of Dom/sub in our daily lives. My partner has a disability (an anxiety disorder) where she suffers frequent panic attacks in addition to periods of depression. My partner said she might be interested in finding some ways I could help her with that as her Dominant. I’m very keen to help and definitely up for supporting her to have what she wants, but I’m wary of getting it wrong! Any advice? With thanks,
Concerned Boyfriend

Dear Concerned Boyfriend,

I don’t know about your girlfriend’s specific disability when it comes to what the roots of her anxiety might be, but I do have experience of having my Dominants help me through a period of anxiety by using aspects of the dynamic we built together. I don’t think my knowledge of anxiety is atypical, and I’m certainly aware of other people who have found the same things useful as I have.

Anxiety generally comes to me in the form of being unable to make decisions. Often, these are decisions that are quite small in reality: what to wear, or what to have for dinner. When this happens, I’ve found it immensely useful to have a Dominant partner to make the decision for me and tell me what to do. I’d react very poorly to this if anyone else tried it, but when it’s someone to whom I have chosen to give power over me it has a remarkably beneficial effect!

Sometimes, the problem is that I’m entirely unmotivated and am struggling to sort out the chores, or sit down and get my work done, or carry out some other necessary task. In times like that, I’ve always been incredibly grateful for Dominants who are happy to motivate me to do it.  A carrot-and-stick approach with a reward at the end (and a punishment if I keep procrastinating about it) works a charm. All of these tricks have the added fringe benefit of taking my mind off whatever’s happening in my head. Suddenly a stressful scenario is a kinky thing between my partner and me, which almost always cheers me up all by itself!

I’m mostly answering your question from personal experience, though - and the only person who can do that for your girlfriend is your girlfriend herself. To help her start figuring out what she wants you to try. Try talking over some of these options with her and see how she feels about them? Even if she doesn’t think they’re for her, they may give her a starting point. I wish you both luck. 


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Sexuality, disability and BDSM - Experimenting with bondage

Hi Abi,
I have a disability, and I’d like to experiment with bondage, but I’m worried about how it would interact with my impaired mobility. I have a form of rheumatism that means I mostly walk using a cane and mustn’t put too much pressure on my joints. How can I find out more about which bondage ties feel good and which don’t without risking hurting myself?
Yours stiffly,
Newly Diagnosed

Hi Newly Diagnosed,
It’s funny you should ask as I was diagnosed with a juvenile form of rheumatoid arthritis which, as it’s an autoimmune condition, went into remission when I was in my early twenties and hasn’t returned. I too periodically walked with a cane and was embarking upon my journey into BDSM at that time, so I do have some direct experience of playing with bondage when rheumatism and joint pain are significant concerns!

The most useful thing I learned back then was not to be afraid to experiment in BDSM - and not to be scared to speak up. If you want to try something, try it; if you realise it’s becoming difficult or uncomfortable in a way you aren’t enjoying, use your safeword liberally and often so that your Dominant partner can untie you and make sure you’re okay. If you’re anything like me, you can tell the difference between ‘this bondage position would make anyone ache a bit, but it’s fine’ and ‘that was an arthritic twinge that will get worse unless I move and take the pressure off right away.’  So use that to your advantage and take some time to figure out what works for you.

Of course, I also have a few bits of more specific advice to add to that general principle:

  • There are plenty of bondage ties that can be done while you’re standing up, sitting in a chair or lying flat on your back. Keep a special eye out for those as you do your research - they’re by far the most reliable.
  • Any bondage position that requires you to kneel needs careful consideration because, for most sufferers of this disability, the knees are the worst part. Never kneel on a hard surface - always put down a cushion or kneel on the bed. Be mindful of the pressure on your hips and ankles as well as the joints in your knees. Make it clear to the people you’re playing with that this isn’t a position you can or should maintain for long.
  • Hogties are likely to be remarkably difficult for those with this disability, even modified ones. They put pressure on the knee and elbow joints in a whole new way. I used to find these even harder than anything involving kneeling! If you’d like to try one anyway, make that clear to your partner and go very slowly and gently.
  • If your doctor has recommended any particular movements or stretches to help maintain and develop your flexibility, do them before and after a bondage scene. It does seem to help.
  • Whatever you do, the most important thing of all is to listen to your body. If it’s a bad kind of pain, speak up right away - it’s not worth the consequences.


Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. 

Do you have any tips on anything relating to sexuality, disability, and BDSM? Leave a comment below or start a thread and ask our kinky community in the BDSM forum

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