This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Sexuality and Intimacy After Burn Injury. Cindy Rutter, burn survivor, discusses fear of rejection when returning to sex after burn injury.

Cindy Rutter

Sustained a Burn Injury in 1959

I believe that returning to or even beginning a life of sexuality and intimacy for someone that has been through a burn injury can be incredibly challenging. I think, as human beings, in general, we all have a fear of rejection, but when you add on this type of a physical component, where your body is different, it adds an element of fear, and how am I going to be a sexual human being with this physical difference?

I think the fear of rejection for — as human beings is huge when it comes to sexuality and intimacy. And I believe that, as a burn survivor, because of the physical differences that our bodies have, it can be overwhelming. And it isn't just someone that's maybe just entering into a relationship for the first time. Even people that are in marriages, significant others — if your body is changed, there's still that fear of, "Is anybody going to wanna love me or touch me?"

And there's a lot of fear around pain, new experiences, "How does my skin feel?" There's a multitude of things that, I think, bring that fear.

So my burn injury is over 60 years, and I’m currently in a new relationship, and it was terrifying to express that my body is completely burned.

So when I think back to the fear of rejection and what I've experienced in my own life — I have been rejected, and that because of the burn injury or the scars — and that was overwhelmingly painful. But with that being said, I wasn't willing to stop and think that no one would love me, and I had to take that risk to actually gain, you know, a love life and to be appreciated and cared for.

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