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In this Post: Learn 13 ways of how to protect yourself from illicit massage requests. There are people out there who would love to receive “more” than just a great massage, learn how to combat this negative energy.
One of the hardest things in our field is the sexual stigma often associated with massage. Hearing things like massage parlor, happy endings, and masseuse really grates on me! In my mind massage is for relaxation and therapeutic purposes only. Anyone who would dare to cheapen the field with illicit activity makes me want to puke!
But the truth is, there are those types of people out there. So how do we combat this kind of energy? How do we protect ourselves from the creeps of the world? These are all good questions to ponder BEFORE being thrust into an uncomfortable, possibly dangerous situation!
As in so many things, preparation is the best method of protection you can provide yourself or your staff. Preparation gives you the confidence to act when the time comes to act, to speak when the time comes to speak, and to trust yourself that you are not making things up in your head.
When I was in massage school, I feel like the seriousness of situations such as these were often downplayed. We were taught that sometimes males may have erections, and that this was a natural reaction, and that we shouldn’t shame our clients.
All of these things may be true, but there are times when people really do have unsavory desires. It is so important to trust your intuition if you ever feel like a client is looking for “more.” If you feel like they are fishing, they probably are.
How To Protect Yourself From Illicit Massage Requests
- Take a self-defense class. Hopefully, you will never have to use the skills you acquire, but having them in your back pocket is sure an empowering tool!
- You may also want to take a psychology class to understand better the mindset around those who prey.
- Take charge of the session from the second your client walks through your door. Present yourself as the authority. Firm handshakes, direct eye contact, and clear instructions can go a long way in establishing who is the boss! Obviously, we want our clients to feel comfortable and like they can speak up. But there is nothing wrong with taking charge of a session!
- Only work when there are other people present in your office. If this cannot be the case make sure to let others know where you are and when you will be leaving. You may even choose to make this phone call when your client is in hearing distance, to make it extremely obvious that someone is expecting you at a particular time.
- Have cameras, obviously not in the treatment room, but in your reception area. Even if you don’t have them running, their presence could deter creeps from making unsavory requests.
- Keep bear or pepper spray at your office. Hopefully you will never need to use it, but having it there is a good safety precaution.
- Post a sign stating that you offer therapeutic massage only. Maybe post multiple signs, in the bathroom, in the waiting room, and in the treatment room.
- Have clients sign a statement saying that they understand you provide therapeutic massage only. Make sure that it states that if you feel they have crossed a line that their session will be terminated and full payment will be collected.
- Make sure your policies regarding inappropriate behavior are clearly stated on your website.
- In your promotional material, state that you do not provide late night appointments. It is amazing how many phone calls I used to receive at 1 and 2 in the morning wondering if anyone could come give a massage right at that moment. Once I included verbiage about not providing late night appointments in my marketing material, these phone calls ceased.
- Practice scripts in your head about what to say if someone asks an inappropriate question, or acts in a suggestive way. I am a big fan of practicing scripts out loud in front of a mirror to get really comfortable with what must be said.
- Wear conservative clothing. I’ve heard arguments that we as empowered women should not have to adjust our attire because of pigs. But the thing is, taking precaution to protect ourselves by eliminating an element that may contribute to our safety doesn’t feel like overkill to me.
- Report illegal practices. According to Polaris Project a leader in the global fight to end slavery, there are more than 9,000 illicit massage businesses in the United States, compare that with the 8,222 Starbucks we currently have in the states. In my time as a therapist, there have been a couple instances where people, so-called therapists, in my town were providing illicit services. During such instances, I noticed an uptake in the number of requests my staff and I receive for inappropriate favors. This butterfly effect infuriates me! By reporting situations such as these you may be helping stop sex-trafficking. You may be helping save a life! Or you may just be helping to shut down a willing participant. Either way, the ripple effect of such activities are staggering and trust me, you don’t want that in your town or city!
So what about when you have taken all of the precautions, and you still have inappropriate requests? This can be such an uncomfortable, dare I say unfair, thing to handle.
How To Terminate A Session Due To Inappropriate Behavior
First of all, trust yourself! If you feel like something is off, it probably is. Don’t wait to address the issue because you are trying to figure out if something is in your head. It is real!
Maybe this means saying something early on to mitigate a potential request. Be bold and state,
I am a trained and licensed massage therapist. I offer therapeutic work only.”
Or maybe your client has requested a sexual favor. Feel confident telling them,
This session is over now, put on your clothing and I will meet you in our reception area.”
If they try to fight you on this, you could continue with
You signed on your intake form that you understood our policies. I will be collecting your full payment. I take situations like this very seriously!”
If you feel your safety is in jeopardy, call the police as soon as you leave the treatment room. You guys, this is nothing to take lightly! And no, you aren’t making it up in your head!
I’m sorry to say that handling things like this is a reality in our massage world. Like I said before, it truly makes me sick. Not something you will probably have to deal with often, but when you inevitably do, it is quite unsettling! Arm yourself with these tools so that when that day comes, you know how to react in an effective, prepared manner! Trust yourself and speak with confidence and power.
I’m curious, what are some steps you take to ensure your safety as a massage therapist? Please comment below!
- Boulder College of Massage Therapy Graduate
- Nationally Certified through NCBTMB
- Colorado Licensed Massage Therapist
- Certified CranialSacral Level 1 through Upledger
- Certified Herbal Therapist through Nutrition Therapy Institute
- Certified Fujian Massage through Barefoot Masters
- Fort Lewis College - Majored in Art, Minored in Business Administration
- 6 Year Winner of Best Massage Therapist for "Best of The Boat" Competition
- Massage Business Owner Since 2008