Blog > When a Massage Becomes an Assault4 min read

Understanding Massage Assault

Massages are meant to be a soothing relaxation technique to relieve tension or stress — but what happens when they become something else? Something dark and uninvited? 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 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.

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 rest assured 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

Seeking Justice

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

The Pride Law Firm exists to return power where it belongs to 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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Get in touch

If you’ve been the victim of sexual assault, Jessica Pride wants to help you once again become the strong person you are. No man or woman deserves to be victimized in such a way.

The Pride Law Firm
2831 Camino Del Rio S., Suite 104
San Diego, CA 92108

1900 Powell St., Suite 6022
Emeryville, CA 94608

Hours. M-F 6:00am - 10:00pm PST

Phone. ​(619) 516-8166

Fax. (619) 785-3414

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