In November 2017, BuzzFeed News reported more than 180 women were sexually assaulted at Massage Envy spas across the country. Those women are not alone. Within months, the number of women who came forward increased dramatically. This past year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote about reports of rampant sexual assaults in massage parlors and spas throughout the Metro Atlanta area. Unfortunately, it usually takes more than one person alleging sexual assault to bring about consequences for the massage therapist. In 2016, it was not until 13 women came forward accusing a massage parlor owner and therapist of abuse before he was indicted for his conduct.
The most common instances of sexual assault at massage parlors occur between male masseurs or massage therapists and female customers. The customer is in a vulnerable position—lying face down and not fully-clothed. More, a male massage therapist is usually stronger and can be intimidating to confront. Even worse, massage rooms are private with no cameras. The therapist and the customer are the only ones in a small room with a closed door. The customer is left with the choice of risking inappropriate touching or leaving the massage room without clothes—neither of which is a choice the customer should be forced to make.
The parlors and spas themselves are responsible
When patrons and customers are assaulted during a massage, the spa should be held responsible. Spas like Massage Envy hold themselves out to be a place to come relax and unwind. When they advertise their establishments as a place where privacy and safety are valued, they should pay for the consequences of those values being infringed. After all, the spa hired, trained, and supervised the massage therapist who committed the assault. The owners and managers of the massage parlor are in the best position to determine who should and should not be giving massages at their establishment. They should have systems in place to report suspicious behavior or vet out therapists before that behavior negatively impacts a victim. The owners and managers are the ones who should be held accountable for allowing someone they should not into their location and subjecting their patrons to that person.
Rules for staying safe during a massage:
- While this is not always possible, try to limit your massage therapists to those other people you know have received massages from.
- Keep certain articles of clothing on. If a massage therapist tells you that you have to remove a particular article of clothing—like underwear—they are lying to you. That is your first warning that the therapist might pose a danger.
- Set ground rules at the beginning of the massage. Tell the massage therapist that you do not feel comfortable with touching in certain areas and draw the line where those areas are.
- If something seems suspicious, tell the therapist to stop or get out. If you leave, the worst that can happen is losing your money. If you feel uncomfortable, it is not worth the risk.
- Research your massage therapist via online reviews and through the Georgia Secretary of State’s Professional Licensing Search prior to your appointment. Unlicensed therapists are more likely to be a danger because they are entirely unregulated and are performing massages illegally. Make sure your massage therapist’s license is active and has no disciplinary actions against him or her.
If you are a victim of rape or sexual assault by a massage therapist, call the police immediately. Then, call the lawyers at Rafi Law Firm who know what to do to hold the spa or massage parlor responsible. We understand the difficulties of proving sexual assault and will fight until the end to make sure your voice is heard.
The legal system can never take back what happened, but it can provide some amount of justice for the victim. Rafi Law Firm is here to help. Give us a call at 404-800-9933 or click here so that we can start working on getting you justice today.