Amputee Fetishes: 6 Realities Of Losing Both Legs As A Girl
Have you ever been hit by a train? No? OK, have you ever woken up hungover and said, "Holy shit, it feels like I've been hit by a train"? Well, our source for this article, Anna Beninati, has, in fact, been hit by a goddamn train.
It took her legs off, but she lived to tell about it and accidentally wound up becoming a national news story -- and target for amputee fetishists -- in the process. She says ...
One Dumb Decision Can Change Everything
"What in the hell were you doing hopping on trains, anyway?" is probably what the emergency medical technicians wanted to ask me as they put me and my severed legs onto a stretcher. Actually, train-hopping is what all the kids are into these days. Well, the kids at Colorado State University, anyway -- the train tracks run right through Fort Collins and the campus itself ...
Combining drunk college students and heavy machinery. Literally nothing could go wrong here.
... and I found on arrival that hopping was a huge part of the local college culture there. This wasn't a secret -- before I started class, my mom warned me repeatedly not to go near the train. I promised her I wouldn't. Obviously, I wound up hopping my first train during my first week at school. The track ran right between my dorm and my classes, so I would hop on it in the morning as a shortcut. This probably sounds insane to most of you, but I was 17, and the train goes very slowly (never more than 6 miles an hour through town), so it's a great transit option for kids who: A) have no car and B) are invulnerable teenagers who will never, ever die.
It's also perfect for those looking to lose their freshman 15, like, immediately.
Not that it's purely a practical choice -- kids would treat it like a moving jungle gym. Some would grab on and ride next to the train on their skateboards, or they would hop on if they saw a friend walking along the train tracks so they could smack him in the back of the head as it went by. I remember one time the train was transporting a bunch of airplane parts, so, of course, kids couldn't resist climbing around in that. It looked fun, and I wanted to be a part of it. What could possibly go wrong?
But then, one day, I met some people at a coffee shop who were talking about something a bit more ... exciting: jumping on a train heading out of the city. That is, one going a lot faster than 6 miles an hour. Still, they made it sound so easy. "Just run up, keep pace with the ladder, jump up to it, and pull your legs up." Who hasn't seen it done in a movie a hundred times?
" ... and anything you have seen in a movie must be safe!"
Now, the two cardinal sins of train-jumping are: Don't jump at a crossing, and don't jump where there are rocks because there's no traction and you'll trip. We did both. We had been walking and hitchhiking all night, so our judgment wasn't the best. Still, the first guy in our group made it onto the train. The second guy jumped and tripped, but was essentially unharmed. I was next, and I knew before I jumped that I wasn't going to make it.
The feeling had been there for about 10 minutes -- just this deep sense of impending doom, like instinct had kicked in to try and save my life. Yet, I bravely ignored those instincts and jumped. I managed to grab on with my arms ... but my legs didn't make it up onto the train. Instead, they bounced underneath it and dragged against the tracks until they weren't legs anymore. The driver never even knew he had hit me until long afterward.
Survival Depended On Incredible Heroism (And Blind Luck)
I was conscious the whole time. I got to see my detached limbs lying next to me on the pavement. I clearly remember being lifted onto the stretcher in three distinct pieces, which is probably a memory I could be perfectly happy without. If my life were a movie, the world would've faded to black, and I would have woken up in a hospital room surrounded by my family. But, nope! I stayed conscious right through the ambulance ride, where the EMTs assumed I would be dead on arrival, and didn't pass out until the local ER put me under.
"I hope somebody is taking video. I would hate for there to be some moment of horror I forget."
Right now, you're probably thinking that severing two legs via train isn't the sort of misadventure anyone could survive. You have some major arteries running through those legs -- wouldn't you bleed out in seconds? Well, I'm only alive and writing this article because, out of all the bad decisions I made that day, I also made the great decision to go train-hopping with a former army medic.
He was running behind me at the time, waiting to make sure I made it, and I actually found out later he had anticipated the disaster and started screaming at me to stop. I couldn't hear him because, y'know, train. But, he pulled me away after I lost my legs, and, within thirty seconds, he had tourniqueted my legs with a pair of sterile cravats he had brought with him, just in case. Without him, I 1,000 percent would have died. Life tip: If you're ever in a horrifying accident, try to be with an army medic.
Also, rethink any stunt that requires "just in case" tourniquets.
Incredibly, I also just happened to fall right next to an intersection that crossed the train tracks, and an off-duty EMT and nurse were both parked, separately, right there when it happened. So, my story is probably the absolute best-case scenario for severing your legs in a train-jumping accident.
This Kind Of Accident Turns Into A Media Circus
"Attractive young college student in terrible accident" is a catchy-enough headline that the local news jumped right into it. While I was still in the intensive care unit, there were media at my former high school in Utah, interviewing old classmates of mine. The audio from my 911 call was posted for the whole Internet to hear, and the story was national news before anyone who was actually present ever had a chance to give his or her side of the story.
As a result, the initial reports stated that drugs and alcohol had been involved -- because that's way more newsworthy than "sleep-deprived teen makes poor choice." I was described as a juvenile delinquent (these days, that has sort of turned into a running joke between my friends and family -- any minor mistake I make gets jokingly blamed on drugs, alcohol, and my rock-n-roll lifestyle). The initial weeks after the accident also gave me a real harsh lesson in Internet. A lot of people in articles' comment sections told me that I should just die, or that I deserved to die, because I'm obviously the first 17 year old in history to make a dumb decision.
Eventually, you realize that "I HATE YOU! DIE DIE DIE!" is just Internet for "Hello."
Next, my friend the medic got painted as being the "bad influence" who pushed me to jump, rather than the guy who tried to get me to stop and saved my ass (on up). While the off-duty EMT and nurse definitely contributed to saving me, they weren't the ones who pulled me away from the train and stopped me from bleeding to death. They got the lion's share of the credit, though, I think because one of their husbands worked for the local paper.
As soon as I got out of the hospital, I started making appearances in local and state news shows. I presented an award to one of the local firefighters who responded to my 911 call in Denver. I did a local Fox News piece, and all that coverage made The Today Show notice me. When they reached out, I figured it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was a cool experience, but also kind of overwhelming in that hard-to-describe, "stranger touching your face on television" way.
"I lost my legs, not my comb, ma'am."
Three years on, I'm still getting calls from Inside Edition. And I've still got a grudge against one of the local news outlets here in Salt Lake because, out of all the outlets that covered my story, these guys were the only ones to actually air footage of my blood on the train tracks. There were two, horrifyingly distinct red smears where my legs got guillotined, and, by god, they put that on TV for all the good families of Utah to gape at. Nobody needs to see that, least of all me. Unsurprisingly, seeing the red spots that were once my legs triggered a panic attack.
And then, things got much, much weirder ...
Porn People Find You
I learned another lesson in the immediate wake of my accident: Amputee fetishism is a thing. And if you're a halfway decent-looking human, people will try to get you to star in their weird pornos. Since the accident, my photos have been plastered across all types of lewd websites, and I've been solicited by countless (COUNTLESS) adult-movie producers. And that shit started well before I turned 18, man. My Facebook blocked list is a saga unto itself.
That's right: I was 17 when this happened. I had graduated early. Within a month, my dad started Googling around and found a song, by some amputee-fetish German metal band, based around my experience. I was like, oh, that's really weird. There's a fetish for amputees?
There sure is.
And this is still going on four years later. It always spikes after I have a media appearance, so I'm sure there'll be a new crop of "modeling opportunities" after this article goes up. I'm not the only amputee who deals with this, either. There's a blocked list circling around some of my amputee friends, filled with people who want to pornify us.
My ex-boyfriend is amputated above the knee, and when our relationship was announced on Facebook, there was another huge spike in requests. I have friends who've had fetishists from out of state show up at their house. A lot of times, they'll masquerade as amputees online and have a lot of fake photos of themselves. There's actually a whole subculture of pretenders who wish they were amputees, for some reason, and amputee fetishists. Some call themselves devotees:
Often, and in terms of my physical safety, that's how.
When I was still 17 and fresh from my first prosthetic fitting, I made the stupid decision of posting pictures of myself on Facebook. In one picture, you can kinda see that I'm in my underwear. That picture is all over the Internet now. So, sometimes, you wind up making "fetish porn" completely by accident.
Phantom Leg Syndrome Is Real
There's a big difference between being a below-knee and an above-knee amputee. If you just lose it below the knee, they can actually give you high-tech shins and feet that are objectively superior to the fleshy ones, in a lot of ways. But, if you lose your legs above the knee, you're either stuck with straight, non-bendy fake legs or a knee with a microprocessor in it. Walking with those straight-legged prosthetics takes about four times as much effort as walking like a regular person. It's insanely difficult to master, too. I only figured it out by leaving my crutches (and wheelchair) in a different city. New knees cost $70,000 or so, and fancy prosthetics aren't generally covered by insurance because, in their mind, you're "able" enough with a wheelchair.
"Hey, be thankful for anything. Our previous policy was 'Wheel Or Chair, Not Both.'"
And then, there is having to deal with Phantom Leg Syndrome.
Basically, I can still feel my feet: They tingle forever, like they're falling asleep. My left stump is much shorter than my right stump, and, as a result, my phantom left leg feels like a tiny, shorter version of a leg. And, because permanently feeling like my feet are asleep doesn't suck enough, I'll occasionally get this horrific burst of pain in one or both feet. Sometimes it lasts an hour, sometimes two days. There's no way to know: It's all the spin of a big, shitty roulette wheel.
Except that there's no money, plus whenever the house wins, they take a power drill to your "toes."
Since phantom limb syndrome is 100 percent in the brain, painkillers don't help at all. Some of my friends advise trying to wiggle my nonexistent toes. I can do it sometimes, but it's not always easy ... usually, I feel like I can curl my toes under just fine, but relaxing them is impossible. Moving a phantom limb feels basically like moving your feet normally, but it takes a lot more effort. It's a little like controlling my body, just over a shitty Internet connection.
The weirdest things trigger it: from movie scenes that involve foot or leg injuries to touching the wrong spot on my neck. The one surefire way to set my feet on fire is the sound of a train. The horn, the rhythmic sound of the wheels, and even the bell at a railroad crossing. Every time I hear, it feels like I'm losing my legs all over again. Once you've fought a train and lost, you never quite look at one the same way again.
You May Need To Find Some New Hobbies (They're Out There)
If you saw someone like me skiing down a mountain, you would probably assume that I had been a ski enthusiast for years and just decided that my accident wasn't going to get in the way of my true passion. The reality is that I wasn't an athlete at all before this -- I got into skiing (to the point that I'm doing it in competitions) because of the amputations. Before that, I had only been a few times and was pretty much just a hazard to everyone else on the mountain.
It was just two months after losing my legs, I was sitting around the house, wheelchair bound and stir-crazy, when I decided to try visiting an adaptive sports clinic I had seen at the mountain. Wasatch Adaptive Sports focuses on helping handicapped people ski, snowboard, and generally do other things more often associated with the bi-legged among us. By the end of that year, I was skiing alone, without assistance. Not long after that, I was teaching other disabled people how to ski.
Sure beats sitting at home on the Internet at this point.
Less than four years later, I'm now on the U.S. Paralympic Development Team for Alpine Skiing, preparing for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. I won my first national title this year and did well enough to take the podium 10 times at games in the U.S. and Canada.
Though, for some reason, Pungent Stench has yet to write a follow-up ballad about this. Go figure.
I do sometimes get called "an inspiration". And I certainly feel like some parts of my story are inspiring. But, it's also irritating when I'm trying to fill up my car and someone who has no idea who I am comes up and tells me how inspiring I am. I want to say, "You don't even know me. All you've seen me do is pump gas. Any 21 year old can do that. Don't give me a pat on the back just for leaving the house this morning." But, at least, they're not inviting me back to a porn shoot.
Robert Evans doesn't have an inspiring story, but he does have a Twitter.
For more insider perspectives, check out The Gruesome Truth About Getting Shot (A First-Hand Account) and Cops Won't Help You: 7 Things I Saw As A Real Slasher Victim.
Have a story to share with Cracked? Find us here.