Sexual Assault During a Massage Session

Horowitz Law has been at the forefront of exposing the staggering number of incidents of sexual assault at Massage Envy and other chain spas by massage therapists. Our attorneys have years of experience representing massage clients who have been sexually assaulted. We file lawsuits against massage businesses, hotels, and spas wherever these sexual assaults occur.  We also work with our clients to ensure that the massage therapists who abuse can never harm another vulnerable client.

Adam Horowitz has been featured extensively on the subject of sexual misconduct in the massage therapy field. A Buzzfeed investigative report on sexual misconduct at Massage Envy locations relied heavily upon the dozens of cases brought by Horowitz Law against the well-known spa chain. Incidents of sexual abuse have occurred in large national chains, such as Massage Envy, Hand & Stone, Massage Green Spa, MassageLuXe, Elements Massage, Massage Heights and Essentials Massage; luxury hotel spas; and smaller storefront spas. Sadly, the perpetrators of these assaults are often repeat offenders who prey on the vulnerability of their clients.

Massage therapy is a multi-billion-dollar industry; one in four adults have had a massage within the past year. Countless people go to spas, hotels and other locations to receive massages for relaxation, pain relief, detox and therapy. Unfortunately, there are an extraordinary number of incidents of sexual assault in massage therapy settings. In recent months, there have been well-publicized complaints and lawsuits involving sexual assaults by massage therapists.

Sexual Abuse in the Massage Therapy Setting Is Among the Most Traumatic and Underreported of All Forms of Sexual Assault

Massage therapists in most states are licensed and regulated by a department of health. It is not normal or legal for massage therapists to make contact with your breasts or genitalia during the course of a massage. This type of physical contact is also banned by the ethics and professional licensing rules for massage therapy.

Getting a massage leaves the client very vulnerable. Usually, the client is lying down naked in a dark, unfamiliar room with a massage therapist they do not know. Frequently, the therapist is a person of the opposite sex. Sometimes, the client is getting his/her first massage and does not understand what is and is not acceptable. Some massage therapists take advantage of these conditions to assault clients. Then, they try to claim that the survivor’s allegations are a misunderstanding due to the nature of a massage therapy technique.

In addition, a massage therapist and client have an inherent imbalance of power. If a massage therapist initiates sexual contact, it is common for the survivor to feel shocked and afraid and to “freeze” involuntarily. The fight or flight response is paralyzed by the nature of the massage therapy. This “freeze response” is a normal response to the trauma of sexual assault. It occurs because the body and brain were attempting to relax when they experienced sudden, unwanted sexual contact. As a result, many survivors of sexual assault in massage settings do not scream, protest or try to escape the room. Feelings of confusion, followed by shame and guilt often accompany the assault. Even if you experienced the freeze response, you should not feel embarrassed. It is not too late to take action against your assailant and their employer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Massages are supposed to be relaxing, but unfortunately, some abusers prey on the vulnerability of their clients on their massage table. At Horowitz Law, our sexual assault attorneys are here to listen to your story and help you take the next steps in filing a claim. Before you meet with us, please see some answers to frequently asked questions about sexual assault by massage therapists.

What is Inappropriate Touching in a Massage?

Because of the nature of massage therapy, many survivors are unsure if the touching that made them uncomfortable can be considered sexual assault. Some examples of inappropriate touching include:

  • Touching genitals or breasts without consent
  • Using sexual language or noises
  • Feeling pressured to remove clothing or clothing being removed without consent
  • Rubbing against a client’s body in a sexual manner
  • Being forced to engage in sexual contact or intercourse

Many massage parlors offer different types of massages, including deep tissue massage and hot stone massage. Regardless of the type of treatment you receive, you should never feel that you are in an uncomfortable situation.

Can I Sue For Sexual Misconduct By A Massage Therapist?

Yes, you can sue a massage therapist for sexual misconduct. You may also be able to sue their employer for failure to properly screen their employees and take sexual assault claims seriously. Filing a lawsuit can help you recover damages for physical and mental health treatment and hold the abuser accountable.

Who Is Liable?

You may have a claim for damages against the massage therapist who committed the assault as well as the spa or, if someone on its staff was aware of the assault or failed to take proper precautions to prevent the assault. As with other establishments, massage business have a duty to protect their patrons. When they fail this duty, they can be held accountable.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault in a spa or during a massage at Massage Envy, MassageLuXe, Hand & Stone or any other location offering a massage, or if you know someone who is a survivor, please contact us at 954-641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at to review your best legal options.