By Jessica pride
Published on
October 24, 2019
Last Updated
April 5, 2024

When a Massage Becomes an Assault

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Understanding Massage Assault

Massages are meant to be a soothing relaxation technique to relieve tension or stress — but what happens when they become a dark and uninvited experience? A session can turn into what is known as “massage assault” or “massage sexual assault.”

If you’ve trusted in a professional massage therapist, masseuse, or spa, only to have that trust completely violated, it’s important to know that it is not your fault. While it is easy and far too common for sexual assault survivors to look inward and shoulder the blame, you are not responsible for what has happened to you.

Massage assault is more common than most people realize. An investigation revealed that more than 180 women have reported sexual assaults at Massage Envy, a nationwide chain of massage spas.

You are not alone.

Many may feel confused about the difference between appropriate and inappropriate conduct during massage therapy. However, it is critical to be able to identify and report abuse when it happens.

Massage Sexual Assault is a Crime

As with any other wellness or spa treatment, there are boundaries and ethics associated with massage services. Unfortunately, there are still those who use their authority, position, and access to privileged information to prey upon people in such a vulnerable state. These incidents are crimes and violations of a person’s personal space and dignity.

These guidelines can help you understand what appropriate behavior is expected of a massage therapist or masseuse, as well as your rights and what to do if a situation becomes uncomfortable.

Hand pressing down massaging a shoulder of a person wrapped in a purple blanket.


Your masseuse or therapist should communicate the process clearly and effectively. Do you fully understand the procedure that’s been described to you? If you have questions, be sure to ask them.

It is your right to be informed of what exactly will be taking place during the massage. If they overstep the preset boundaries or are not clear about what the session will entail, it could leave room for abusive conduct.  

Lack of Consent is Massage Assault

There are different types of massages — Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, etc. Each kind involves a variety of movements and practices. If at any time during your session you feel uncomfortable, you can ask the therapist to explain what he or she is doing, or request for them to stop the treatment.

You are under no obligation to allow the therapist to perform a technique if it makes you experience pain, embarrassment or discomfort. If they perform actions that you have not consented to or have affirmatively objected to, you may have grounds for contacting an attorney. You are in charge of your body, and you are entitled to set boundaries.

Comfort Level

A massage should be physically comfortable and the therapist’s conduct must be professional at all times. If at any time you don’t agree with what’s going on, you can choose to end the massage. It is also your right to dictate which articles of clothing to leave on, as well as which body parts you do not want to be touched.

If something doesn’t feel right, you are allowed to express yourself and ask questions.

Remember, if something doesn’t feel right, you are allowed to express yourself and ask questions. Specifically, if you have never received a massage and don’t fully know what to expect, asking questions can help ensure your safety and comfort level.

Sexual Assault by a Massage Therapist: Success Stories

Through the last few years, we have helped settle multiple massage sexual assault cases in civil court.

Most recently, we settled a case against a massage facility in Orange County. It was our client’s word against the alleged perpetrator's, which can be difficult in court. However, through the investigatory work of our paralegal, Maggie, we found that the perpetrator was wanted in New York for the same conduct. The Orange County spa failed to do a background check on this man and was held liable. The Pride Law Firm helped our client get justice.

Another case we recently resolved was for a mother and her teen daughter, who was molested by an unlicensed therapist at a Chula Vista spa.

The Pride Law Firm is also actively pursuing an abusive therapist after he battered and assaulted several women at the high-end hotel Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad.These stories are just a few examples of how hope and healing can be found after significant trauma and at The Pride Law Firm, we want to assure you that justice can become a reality for you or your loved one.

Hope and Healing After Massage Therapy Assault

If you are a survivor of sexual assault by a massage therapist, we at The Pride Law Firm offer our sincerest empathy for what you have gone through. We are here for you.

There is hope. As you begin the healing process, we want to assure you that:

  • You can let go of guilt and shame
  • You can heal from psychological and emotional wounds
  • You can restore a healthy relationship with your body
  • You can be proactive and process the trauma
  • You can move on with your life and feel like yourself again

If you feel you were violated during a massage, we encourage you to reach out to our compassionate team of legal advocates today.

Seeking Justice

Whether you have questions or just need someone to talk to about your experience, we provide the trusting and compassionate atmosphere you need for healing.

The Pride Law Firm exists to empower survivors by providing them with all of the necessary resources they need to regain confidence and believe in themselves again.

You do not have to tolerate massage therapist sexual assault or any other form of abuse. Most importantly, you do not have to fight such a difficult battle alone. The Pride Law Firm offers a no-obligation, no-cost consultation. Reach out to us today at 619-516-8166 for a confidential discussion of your rights and how we can help you move forward. We will be your voice and will assist you in finding your own again.

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