Assault and Massage – What to Do

Assault and Massage – What to Do

Recently there seem to have been an increase in number of assaults reported on massage clients by their “therapist”. Whether this is the result of an actual increase in assaults or reporting of assaults that would previously have not been reported is unknown and to some extent a moot point anyway as even one sexual assault is one too many. The vast majority of these assaults are by male massage therapists on female clients.

Often when these types of assaults are posted on Facebook then there are comments made (invariably by males) that perhaps it is a vindictive claim. Maybe the client is after a complementary massage or she wanted a sensual massage and been turned down or she just has an axe to grind for whatever reason. There have been cases like this reported but in my view they are very very much the exception.

How to reduce the chance of being assaulted
Please note: this is not intended to imply that there is any blame to be attached to a victim because they should have taken more actions to avoid being assaulted. If you are assaulted on a massage table then there is only one person to blame and obviously that is the person giving the massage.

  • Book a massage based on word-of-mouth. Seeing a therapist who has been recommended to you is always advisable.
    However if you don’t have a recommendation (or the recommended therapist is not available at time the suits you) then make sure that you book with a therapist who is an accredited member of a professional association. Doesn’t mean that you will be 100% safe but the chances of something untoward happening during your massage will be less than if you book a massage based on a Craiglist or Gumtree ad.
    (NB. I am a member of Australasian Traditional Medicine Society, ATMS)
  • If you are going to see someone then make sure that you are visiting professional premises. Be more wary of booking a massage at someone’s home. Also if when you arrive the “clinic” just does not have a good vibe (or looks very different to any website images you may have seen) then feel free to leave. Your safety is more important than upsetting someone by cancelling.
  • Slightly different scenario if you are booking a massage at home with a therapist like myself then you are inviting a stranger into your home, taking off your clothes and putting your trust in them. Remember though that even though the therapist is the “professional”, you are still in charge. If you have a bad vibe when the therapist arrives then better you cancel and upset them than put yourself in a risking situation. If you can arrange for other people to be around in the home during the session then that is sensible. Alternatively if this is not possible then you can make a point of texting or calling someone when the therapist arrives and let them know you will contact them again when the massage is finished.
    Over the years, several women who are on their own in their homes have done this when I have arrived. Any legitimate therapist will not have any issue with you doing this.
  • Quick aside, a client I was seeing mentioned that one time I wasn’t available then she arranged for another therapist to visit. When he arrived without a table and expected to massage her on her bed then alarm bells rang. She refused to let him in and, I suspect, dodged a bullet. Making sure that a mobile therapist has professional equipment is prudent.
  • When you are ready to get ready for your massage then be wary if the therapist does not ask you to fill out a client intake form or ask you questions about what you want from the massage. If they dive straight in then it can be a warning sign.
  • Never, never take off more clothes than you are comfortable. If you want to stay fully clothed on the table then that is your right. Therapists who insist on what you (don’t) wear for the massage are to be avoided. In particular, if they tell you to remove underwear then probably best to terminate massage then and there.
    On my table, it is up to you what you wear and what you don’t wear. Personally I prefer clients to disrobe as I work with oil on the skin and I will work around whatever clothes you want to keep on.
  • On a similar note, never let a massage therapist massage parts of your body that you don’t want massaged. Most professional therapists would consider that a full body massage can include the gluteal muscles (the butt) and the pec region (upper chest) but they should always ask permission before massaging you there. If they start massaging such an area that you do not want to be exposed or massaged then tell them and if they continue despite your instructions then terminate the massage immediately.
  • Remember, it is your massage. You are in always charge and you can terminate a session at any time. Never fail to let a therapist know if you are uncomfortable about any aspect of the massage. From anecdotes, I’ve heard that women have felt that because the therapist is the “expert” then they should accept that and not question what is happening the massage. This is not right. A professional therapist wants you to be comfortable at all times and if something is bothering you then please please please speak up (or finish the session).

    Many women who have been assaulted have reported that they know what is happening is wrong but because of the vulnerable nature of the position they are in then they are just too scared to say anything. I’m not sure I can offer any guidance on this score, being aware that it happens maybe might make it slightly easier to speak up, I don’t know. Again it’s probably best to avoid being in a situation where you are alone with the therapist – with other people being around then it may make it easier for you to act on the fact that what is happening is wrong.


    If you are reading this article and are thinking of booking a massage with me, hopefully this has not put you off. I recognise that there is a degree of irony as part of my message is don’t be alone with a stranger yet that is exactly what a significant proportion of my (female) clients do.

    If you have any questions or concerns then please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Please do not hesitate to contact Richard if you have any questions to any information presented on this blog. Any information, advice, recommendations, statements or otherwise contained herein, or in any other communication made by or attributed to Richard Lane, whether oral or in writing, is not intended to replace or to be a substitute for medical advice trained by a trained physician or healthcare practitioner.
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