Providing sexual assistance to disabled individuals is a profession that attracts enemiesby Sara Fulco - 2016.11.11
In many countries throughout the world the individuals that provide sexual assistance to disabled individuals are looked upon with suspicion and dismay. Thanks to Maximiliano Ulivieri this subject is no longer taboo in Italy. With his project “Lovegiver”, he has continued to try to get this “special” professional role formally and legally recognized.
1) Why do you think that sexual assistants are so important in the life of a man or woman with a disability?
When you are used to being washed and fed and you can’t move, another person touching you can be a pleasurable experience, that allows you to experience your body differently, not as the usual prison or vehicle of pain. It allows one to have physical contact with and enjoy the smell of another person. In other situations, those with disabilities think that their body can no longer feel or give pleasure, and the assistant can help them overcome this difficult challenge just by providing contact.
2) How does one become a sexual assistant in Italy?
It is difficult because in Italy, there is no legal recognition of this profession. With my association, we have been able to make some headway on a regional level. Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and seem to want to move forward, even if only in very small steps. In the meantime, Lovegiver has launched training programs for those who want to do this work. We ask that interested individuals first send their c.v., a photo, and a letter explaining their motivation. Then, they receive an aptitude test (orally and written) with Fabrizio Quattrini – head of the Italian Scientifi Institute of Sexologists in Rome, who decides if an individual possesses the right dose of empathy and the appropriate attitude. To date, we have chosen 30 people, 15 men and15 women, with different sexual orientations and educational backgrounds. Their ages are between 30 and 50. The course include 200 hours of training and lessons given by medical specialists who explain different types of disabilities.
2) Outside of Italy, how does it work?
In some countries, there are local networks, but like in Italy, they are not legally recognized for the services they provide. In other countries, the profession is recognized, but nevertheless the services of the assistant is associated with prostitution. It needs to be said that among the assistants themselves and also among the clients who receive the services, there is a great deal of suspicion surrounding this type of professional. Over the years, I have tried to help people face this question by organizing over 60 congresses and 30 courses for educators and parents. But none of these associations of which I am a member has decided to declare openly and publicly: “Ok, we want the role of sexual assistant to be recognized”. The truth is that many disabled people are not sold on this whole idea because they do not want to be viewed as people who need special assistance for living their sexuality.
4) Has it ever happened that an individual falls in love with his/her assistant?
Sure, it can happen. And that is precisely why the number of encounters is limited and we tend to rotate our schedules so we are not always sending the same individual.
Those who are interested in participating in or supporting the project can find more information on our website: www.lovegiver.it .
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