Massage therapy should not involve the touching of any private body parts. Therapists should not expose any private body parts during a massage either. However, some massage therapists take advantage of their clients during a massage. A massage should be a comfortable, relaxing and professional experience.
Unfortunately, in some cases, massage therapists may take advantage of the trust that their clients expect from them.
When a Sexual Assault Occurs During a Massage
There has been a rise in cases reported of individuals who sought out massage therapy but were sexually assaulted during their appointments. A few of the most prominent include:
- A female customer of a massage business told police that she had been inappropriately touched by a therapist in Fairfax, VA, leading to a charge of sexual assault
- A male massage therapist was found guilty of sexually assaulting 5 individuals at a Massage Luxe in Williamsburg, VA, and raping one at a Massage Envy in Chesterfield, VA
- Three women sued a spa in Lancaster, OH, for sexual assault after having their genitals exposed during their massages
- Over 180 women reported sexual assaults at Massage Envy chains located across the United States
In each of these cases, people trusted their massage therapist to do their job, but instead were sexually assaulted and
Molested during the massage. Experiencing a sexual assault can be devastating, both physically and emotionally. Especially in an environment where you are partially undressed in an enclosed room with the perpetrator.
Knowing what to do after a sexual assault occurs can help you move forward and recover from the incident.
If you’ve experienced a sexual assault during a massage, reach out to Melissa Hague, a qualified sexual assault attorney. She will lend a reassuring ear and help you seek the justice you deserve.
When a Massage Becomes an Assault
Those who undergo a massage expect to be touched — that’s part of the massage experience. Trained technicians who specialize in the body’s muscular structure are expected to use their upper body, including their arms and fingers, to relax muscles that have become tight due to overuse or stress.
Typically, massage therapists will focus on the back, shoulders, arms, trunk, neck, scalp, and legs during a client appointment.
Thus, when a massage therapist deviates to private
body parts during a massage, such as breasts, vaginal area or genitalia, the client may be confused and feel uncomfortable. There are three main areas of the body that usually aren’t included in a massage unless the client has officially requested it. These include:
While the buttocks are usually included in a regular massage service, touching the anal area is not. Trained therapists may knead the buttocks area, but they should never use their hands to touch inside the anus or open that area up. Clients who don’t want their buttocks touched during a massage may request the therapist not to do so.
Touching the breasts is abnormal and not included as a part of a regular massage. Breast tissue is mostly fatty tissue with limited muscle. Thus, there is little to no reason to touch the breasts during a massage.
In most states, touching the breasts during a massage is illegal. In states where it is allowed, written consent must be given by the client.
Inner Upper Thighs
Similar to the breasts, there is no reason to massage the inner upper thighs during a massage unless the client has specifically requested it due to a muscle or tendon injury. If it is requested, the area should remain completely covered. At no point should the genitals be handled, as this would indicate inappropriate touching during a massage.
What Is the Power Differential in Massage?
Power differentials occur when one person has more power than the other. You’ll see this in many common relationships, such as between a child and their parent or a coach and an athlete.
During a massage, there is a certain power differential: The client is typically naked, excluding underwear. A towel usually covers their body, which is systematically moved during the massage. They are lying on a massage table while the massage therapist remains fully dressed.
Thus, massage therapists are expected to maintain a level of professionalism and ethical behavior.
A problem occurs when a massage therapist violates trust by committing an action or using conduct that is unbecoming of the massage therapy industry.
What Is Informed Consent During Massage?
Whenever you agree to undergo a massage, you must give the therapist your informed consent. You do this when you are given a description of the massage services to be provided and agree to receive them.
Once you consent to the massage, your massage therapist has an ethical obligation to ensure you receive the massage you agreed to. A certain level of trust is established between the client and the therapist.
Even after you have given informed consent for the massage, you may still take it back at any time during the service if you begin to feel uncomfortable. You should tell your therapist any time you feel distressed by their touch.
How Do You Report Sexual Assault from a Massage Therapist?
If you ever feel uncomfortable during a massage, it’s best to follow certain steps.
- Let the Massage Therapist Know You Feel Uncomfortable
Sometimes, an act may be accidental, such as brushing a private area with an arm while moving to another part of the body. Some touches may have been completely unintentional. Let the massage therapist know you felt uncomfortable so that they are aware.
However, if the act was clearly assault, such as if the therapist fingered genitals or exposed themselves, immediately end the massage session. Get dressed and leave the facility.
- Contact Local Law Enforcement or the Sexual Assault Hotline
After a sexual assault occurs, some individuals may need time to process what happened. That’s completely normal and to be expected. For support, you can reach out to the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE. There are advocates who will listen to what happened and provide you with additional resources.
If you feel comfortable going to local law enforcement, seek out your local precinct and file a report. Most precincts have officers who specialize in sexual assault. They are trained to help victims and can assist you with any questions you have.
- Preserve Physical Evidence and Go to a Hospital or Urgent Care Facility
Depending on what occurred during the massage, you may need to preserve physical evidence. Keep any clothing with you, don’t shower, and don’t brush your hair. Instead, visit a medical professional and ask for a rape kit. A trained nurse will conduct the examination and save any DNA evidence found on your body.
- Seek Legal Advice
You may choose to file a claim against the person who performed the assault. If this is the case, contact a sexual assault massage lawyer to learn about your legal options. You’re also likely to need help with counseling to help in your recovery. A lawyer will provide you with recommended therapists and other support resources.
Have You Experienced a Sexual Assault Injury During a Massage?
Massages are supposed to be pleasant, relaxing experiences. People don’t expect to become sexual assault victims when seeking one. However, it does happen — and you’ll need an experienced sexual assault lawyer to assist you with navigating the aftermath.
For a free and private consultation, contact Melissa Hague. She is dedicated to helping those who have experienced sexual assault recover their lives and move on from what can be a highly traumatic experience.