I’ve been writing about sex for the past 20-plus years. So much of my sex life lives on the web in all its archived, extremely detailed glory. A simple search will tell you that I’m pansexual, love to be tied up, and have a roster of consensually non-monogamous (CNM) and polyamorous relationships. I get that I’m a sexual and relationship outlier. I’m also an internet oversharer. That’s OK. I’ve carved out an intentional life that works for me. As long as sharing fantasies, fetishes and sex club exploits doesn’t hurt anyone else, that’s all that matters.
How a Sex Positive, Savvy Person Can Still Get Assaulted
I’ve spent my entire career being the outspoken, sex-positive, empowered feminist I wanted to see in the world. So, when I was sexually assaulted by a steady partner a few years ago, I felt like a total failure. After all, I am the go-to for so many people on all things sex, dating and relationships. I felt extreme shame - like I should’ve known better.
When I was sexually assaulted by a steady partner a few years ago, I felt like a total failure.
In a nutshell: Every few weeks, a guy I met on Tinder (or maybe it was Bumble?) and I would get together over lunch for a specific, pre-negotiated, and mutually consensual role play. He was a tall, mohawked, heavily tattooed professional seven years my junior, and got off on being with an older woman. (I don’t think a seven-year age gap is all that salacious, but whatever – it was part of the fantasy.) I was his "Secret Mommy," and no one could know about our illicit (not to mention incestuous IRL) scenario. I had a sense that maybe he was cheating on a significant other, but I didn’t care. Our trysts were discreet; what he did beyond my bedroom was none of my business.
When the mood struck, I’d text him that Mommy needed to be pleasured. He’d come over, perform oral sex, then go back to work. We stuck to a pretty basic role-play script. Sometimes, if he’d been a good boy, I’d reward him with a blow job and let him come on my tits. Other times, he’d been naughty and was spanked or verbally humiliated. Penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse was never part of our arrangement and play was pretty one-sided when it came to actual orgasms. He got off on the power dynamic, and I loved having a space to tap into my dominant tendencies. On occasion, I felt a strange maternal pang. (I typically lack any and all maternal instinct.) We rarely stepped out of character and, as a result, I knew very little about his life beyond his STI status, high-profile career, and his sexual proclivities.
So, I found it odd when he reached out to me late one Friday night asking if I was home and whether he could stop by. I was the one who usually initiated contact, and it was always during regular business hours - one of the things I got off on was having him leave work on-demand.
Sure, the unusual outreach was a big red flag. But, I knew him, I told myself. There had to be a legit reason why he wanted to see me. I invited him over and broke my self-imposed rule of checking in with a friend if I was going to do anything outside my usual dating or sexual norm. (As someone who lives alone, actively dates and partakes in kink, I’m all about having reliable people in my life who will check on my safety.)
I knew him, I told myself. There had to be a legit reason why he wanted to see me.
Upon arrival, he was extremely aggressive and appeared to be on some kind of stimulant. He was far from the sweet, submissive guy I’d been playing with. I was scared. No one knew he was at my apartment. I immediately knew I'd made an awful decision. When he pushed my body forcibly over my dining room table and pulled my hair, I knew I could either fight him or let him fuck me. The latter seemed to be the easiest way out, especially since I knew he typically came super-fast. He did and then left. I sat in my apartment in shock, flooded with guilt and shame.
I sat in my apartment in shock, flooded with guilt and shame.
I disclosed what had happened to one of my other partners, who agreed that there was no sense in reporting the assault. I’m a sex writer who speaks and writes openly about my sexual activity. There’s no way that anyone would believe me. I’m already called awful names on a near-daily basis by critics and strangers. I could only imagine what drama and bullshit would happen if I brought a case against someone who’s well-respected within his industry in what often feels like a big city parading as a small town (aka, Seattle).
So, I opted to stay mostly silent and have shared this story with very few people. And I struggle with how someone who’s so sex-savvy ended up in such a vulnerable situation. The sad reality is that it can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time.
Throughout my life, I’ve experienced more consent violations than I can count – from sexual innuendos made by family members to be being touched by strangers. This instance, though, is by far the most egregious. I know I’m not alone, and the experience gave me much greater insight as to why so many people don’t speak up. I already endure never-ending slut-shaming; why pile victim-shaming on top of that?
I was completely sober and dressed in sweats, so I don’t want to hear that I “asked for it.” I did not say “no,” struggle, or fight back, but I most definitely did not express enthusiastic consent.
The bottom line: I had sexual intercourse against my will, and it’s taken a lot of time to understand that I’m not to blame. And if you’ve been subjected to any sexual contact without your consent, neither are you. I am here for you.
If you’ve been sexually assaulted, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 9-800-656-4673.
Ryn Pfeuffer is a versatile print and digital writer specializing in sex, lifestyle, and relationship topics. Over the past two decades, her work has appeared in more than 100 media outlets including Marie Claire, Playboy, Refinery29, The Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, WIRED, and Thrillist.
She adopted a pseudonym and was AVN’s (Adult Video Network) first female porn reviewer – while penning children’s books at the same time. More recently, she is the author of 101 Ways to Rock Online Dating (2019). She lives in Seattle with her rescue dog, Mimi. You can find her on Twitter @rynpfeuffer or IG @ryn_says