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Sometimes when Tabitha Estrellado meets a man, he will extend a hand and expect her to shake it.

But she can’t — and it’s awkward to explain why when you’re trying to flirt. Estrellado, 32, has muscular dystrophy, a chronic disease in which muscles weaken and waste over time until they no longer work at all.

They are more likely to experience relationship abuse and less likely to report the behavior than nondisabled women, Dr. The less mobile a woman is, the more likely she is to experience relationship abuse, research has found. Nosek spearheaded the National Study of Women With Physical Disabilities, one of the first research studies to find that its participants had experienced abuse specifically related to their disability.

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For people with disabilities it’s just 24.4, according to Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland-College Park who studies family inequality issues.

In many ways, young women with disabilities are just like other women their age when it comes to dating.

Instead, she discovered men who wanted to be physically intimate but not fully commit to a relationship. In the hookup world, men don’t care about wheelchairs.”As part of her onstage persona, Ms. Her hope is to break down the misconception that people with disabilities should be treated like children or nonsexual beings.

For months, she would secretly hook up with men she met online. Estrellado has six personal aides who switch day and night shifts throughout the week. Bruener, who lives in Alexandria, Ky., and uses a wheelchair to get around, dresses up in a buttoned cardigan and a colorful headband, a girlish look intended to throw off her audience. “I still have all the same desires for the future as any other woman my age,” she says.

Even as your brain commands a finger to curl or a toe to wiggle just a few centimeters, nothing moves.

It’s a challenge in the world of dating, where even the subtlest gestures can carry a lot of intention. Estrellado, a singer-songwriter, the worst part about having muscular dystrophy is knowing that many people don’t see her as a prospective romantic partner to date, to marry and to have children with someday.

Estrellado maneuvered her wheelchair to greet friends.

When she’s feeling too short, she raises her chair to the height of whomever she’s talking to.“If I ever saw the pope, I would ask him to pray that I find love,” she says with a sad smile.

Margaret Nosek, who is the director of the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities at Baylor College of Medicine and has muscular dystrophy.

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