KNOW YOU ARE NOT ALONE! After 7 years of running and operating my massage business, I never thought I would face sexual assault from a client, let alone one who was receiving effective pain relief for the last several months.
Your massage room is supposed to be a safe haven. Clients come to you to seek comfort, physical and emotional release to help their bodies heal. You should not be worried about being sexually assaulted by your client.
STEPS TO TAKE IF THIS HAPPENS TO YOU
1. KNOW YOU ARE IN CONTROL! Try to stop the session immediately. If you’re running your own business, this might be difficult, because you’re scared of what the client might do or how they might react if you stop the session. So as hard as it is (even if tears are streaming down your face) try to finish the massage to get them out in a calm and safe manner. If you’re working with others, get out of that room as quickly as you can, tell someone, and hopefully someone else can intervene. Personally, I don’t think you even need to say anything to the client, just walk out. But, if you want to you can say, “this session is now terminated.”
2. DO NOT LET THEM COME BACK FOR ANOTHER APPOINTMENT! If you’re working for yourself, again this might be difficult because you’re scared of what the client might do. You will have to stay strong, and go though your normal checkout process. If they typically rebook after the session, that means you will have to go through this step. But, as soon as you get them out in a calm and safe manner, cancel their appointment, block them from being able to schedule again through your website, block their e-mail address and phone number so they cannot contact you, and take them off any business e-mail lists.
3. CALL OR TALK WITH SOMEONE! This is not your fault. You did nothing to instigate this type of behavior from your client. You will be shaken up, with tears streaming down your face, so please talk to or call someone who can be there for you.
4.CONTACT AUTHORITIES! As hard as it might be, you really should contact the authorities and file a police report in case this happens to another massage therapist. Unfortunately, you should not contact other massage therapists/ businesses in the area to warn them, due to client confidentiality.
5.SPEAK OUT! Unfortunately, this happens way too often in our industry, and doesn’t get talked about enough. Sexual assault doesn’t just happen to our clients. We’re subjected to it too. As a community, we need to talk about it more. We need to know we’re not alone. We need to ingrain in our mind the steps to take to protect ourselves. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other massage therapists who you trust, and tell them what happened. They might have valuable insight as to what you can do, and how you can heal from this.
6.PROTECT YOURSELF! You’re shaken up, and feel like a victim, but know that you can take actions to protect yourself in the future. Some options you might consider: taking a self-defense class, purchasing a taser or pepper spray to keep in a secure space in your office/ massage room, or even obtaining your concealed carry license.
I’m sorry if this has happened to you. Please know you’re not alone! Together as a community, we have a voice!
Yours in health,
Dana M. Brandt-Tinker