Rubbed the Wrong Way: Sexual Assault and Massage - a site for people who have experienced rape, sexual assault and other inappropriate behaviour in the course of massage
About this Site
First, a little about me: My name is Louise. Some years ago, I was given a massage by a masseur whom I thought of as very trustworthy and caring. I was pregnant at the time, and he said he knew what to do for my lower back pains. When he put his hand in my groin and massaged my perineum and vagina, he said that the vaginal muscles were connected to the lower back. Although I was very uncomfortable, I accepted this; he seemed so genuinely sensitive that I couldn't believe he would do anything wrong. Ditto when he touched my breasts keeping up a stream of friendly patter as he did. I didn't know then, as I know now, that sexual assault is less about lust and more about power and control, so I assumed that because I was 7 months pregnant, he couldn't have meant anything sexual by it. Was I "stupid"? No. I was young; I had come from a background of extremely violent abuse; he knew this and seemed to adopt a "protective" role. I did not then know that abuse and betrayal can come in not-so-obvious disguises, and I completely believed him.

This man recently pled guilty to sexual assaults on five other women in my location, giving them, like me, clinical explanations for his behaviour, and it was then that I knew that what happened to me was wrong and not a legitimate part of the massage at all. I felt angry and disgusted at this betrayal by somebody who engaged my trust and pretended to have "healing hands", yet in searching for information on massage therapists who sexually assault, I could find only a string of news articles. I decided to put together a site with some basic information and support for other women and men who have experienced rape, sexual assault or other inappropriate behaviour in the context of massage. You are here now!

Remember, it wasn't your fault - don't blame yourself because you were naked under a towel and accepting other forms of touch - you wanted a massage, not an assault. It may have happened in the context of naturopathic massage, chiropractic treatment or a sports coach offering you a rub. Please bear in mind too that it doesn't matter if the masseur was a trained professional that you paid, or a friend doing some free work on you - at all times, the ethics and appropriate behaviour should be observed. (For more about this please read Ethics in Massage by Kellum Johnson LMT) Please also don't blame yourself if you didn't know it was an assault and didn't stop it because the masseur gave you a "clinical" explanation - you were manipulated - and some of these creeps are able to manipulate several people as switched on as you before somebody goes to the law. If you are a teenage boy or girl, you may have been intimidated by the authority of the person abusing you. Please believe that there are people who understand. If it is still happening, please do seek help.

Whatever the circumstances, nobody ever has the right to sexually touch you without your consent - period. Please know that what happened to you is important and don't put up with others minimizing it or blaming you. Besides being a disgusting abuse of trust, it is a crime.

About "erotic" or "happy ending" massage: This is massage quite different from healing massage. In erotic massage it's agreed by both parties that genital touch, perhaps to the point of orgasm, will be given and received. But even then you have the right to decide how far things will go and stop at any time. Again, any touch without your consent - even if you initially gave it, is sexual assault.

If you are not sure if you were sexually assaulted, you may want to go here for a look at some definitions. Also, please see this page in which two massage therapists speak about what is and is not appropriate. You might like to see articles about masseurs convicted of sexual assault - remember, it is a crime. If you feel the need for support from other survivors of sexual assault, please feel free to join Pandora's Aquarium, a thriving community for male and female survivors. If you would like your story to be put on this site, please see this page - you may find it helps you to share, and there are other people out there who will feel less isolated too!

I hope that survivors visiting this site will leave feeling a little less alone.
Copyright 2007