Laura Beck shares her story in an effort to humanize those within the disabled community.

By Laura Beck as told to Faith Brar
Instagram/@anhonestquad

A few months ago, a friend reached out to me and said she found videos from my Instagram on Pornhub. I couldn’t imagine how any of the content I shared could be sexualized. I’m a quadriplegic and my Instagram is dedicated to raising awareness and giving hope that a “new normal” can be found within this life-altering injury. To understand why these videos being stolen is so appalling, you have to understand how my story began.

Learning to Live with a Life-Changing Injury

It was 2016 and we were celebrating my husband’s birthday and Thanksgiving in Baton Rouge with our family. We decided we were going to head back to Chattanooga after dinner despite the forecast warning us about thunderstorms the entire drive home. My father-in-law begged us to stay the night and leave in the morning, but we chose to go anyway.

On our way home, our car hit a puddle and hydroplaned, flipping three times before hitting a tree. The roof of the car had gone into my head compressing my spine at my C6 vertebra, leaving me paralyzed from the waist down with minimal finger function, no bowel-bladder, no sexual function, no temperature gauge, limited diaphragm, and one working tricep.

I spent the next month in the hospital and then another month at a rehab facility, but the reality of my situation didn’t fully hit until I got home.

A part of me had hoped that life would go back to “normal” once I got home, but I quickly realized that I would have to find a “new normal.” The simplest tasks were challenging; I couldn’t get on the couch on my own, I couldn’t go to the bathroom on my own, I couldn’t dress myself, and so much more.

These are still things I still struggle with today, but with a lot of patience and time, luckily, I’ve come to understand that regardless of what I can and can’t physically feel or do, I am still a whole person.

After my injury, I went to Instagram hoping to find other Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) who were vulnerable and honest about the behind the scenes of life with an SCI. I wanted to raise awareness to those outside the situation and to open a door for others to find community. I wanted to create a safe place for others to relate and connect about the challenges of living with an SCI.

I also use my Instagram to document my journey of not allowing my disability to keep me from doing what I love. Before my accident, I lived a pretty active life. While my life has changed, I still love getting outdoors and have found new ways to be active. I even went skydiving using a special adaptive strap to keep my legs together and lifted up to my chest to prevent injury.

I found that others were encouraged as I shared the “not so pretty” parts of this life —even if it was simple stuff like getting into bed on my own. I received messages daily of people asking how I handle my new life and how I am able to maintain a positive mindset. I enjoyed being able to relate to others in a similar situation and wanted to help in any way that I can. (Related: Fitness Saved My Life: From Amputee to CrossFit Athlete)

Learning My Disability Was Being Sexualized Without My Consent

A few months after I started my Instagram, I received messages from a few individuals that I thought were strange. These were people who claimed to have a Spinal Cord Injury but kept asking questions they should have known the answer to.

After sharing these messages with one of my quadriplegic friends, I learned that this is a group of people who are called “devotees.”

A devotee is someone with a devoted fetish. In my case, these people were trying to trick me into sharing information about my life as a quadriplegic for their sexual pleasure.

To be clear, I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a fetish and many devotees don’t trick people into fulfilling their sexual desires. Consent is the most important element in any sexual situation. This group of devotees did not obtain consent. (Related: 5 Secret Male Fetishes That Are Actually Totally Common)

It was a few months later when someone told me they found a video of me transferring out of the car on Pornhub.

I quickly found that not only was my video stolen but so were several other videos of paralyzed women from Instagram. he videos all showed these women celebrating milestones like getting out of their wheelchair and into their bed on their own. (Related: Playboy Model Dani Mathers May Face Jail Time for Naked Snapchats of Fellow Gym-Goer)

Most of these women, myself included, had shared these videos to Instagram to help others struggling with this life-changing injury. None of us had consented for those videos to be used for others’ sexual pleasure.

I had to fight for Pornhub to remove my video, and after some help from my friends, the site finally did.

Becoming an Advocate for People with Disabilities

Having this experience made me passionate about fighting the stigma and stereotypes that many within the disability community are often placed in.

That’s why I decided to get involved with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and became a part of their See Us campaign. The mission behind See Us is to focus on the person sitting in the chair and not their disability. We are more than our injury or disability. We are a powerful community full of individuals ready to be seen for who we really are. That’s why we launched See Us, a movement to share ourselves, our experiences, and our stories with the world.

If you are someone who has paralysis, you can share your story at ReeveSeeUs.org or by posting on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #ReeveSeeUs.

I hope that by sharing my story, along the thousands of others sharing theirs, we can get one step closer to a world where disabilities don’t define us. We deserve to be seen as equal and capable of doing anything and everything that we put our minds to. We deserve a world full of adaptation that opens the doors for us to have the same opportunities that everyone else does.

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