What Kind of Touching Constitutes Massage Abuse in California?
Massage abuse in California may take many forms, but often it involves unwelcome touching of some kind. Many may argue that touching is an inherent part of the massage business, but there is a clear difference between physical contact during a normal massage service and touching that constitutes sexual abuse. Although a defendant may claim that they were “just doing their job,” victims know that their boundaries have been violated. But what kind of touching might constitute massage abuse in California? How do you know whether your rights have been violated?
The Definition of “Sensitive Areas”
There are a number of so-called “sensitive areas” that massage therapists should not touch. The College of Massage Therapists has identified four sensitive areas, including:
- Chest wall musculature
- Upper inner thighs
Note that the upper inner thigh area includes the genitalia of both sexes. In some situations, touching the buttocks may be acceptable, but only with the patient’s expressed consent. A massage therapist should not touch your buttocks if you did not complain about issues in this area. If the buttocks are massaged, therapists should always focus on the gluteus muscles without touching the anus.
Breasts are also rarely touched during normal massage therapy. The only possible exception is a breast massage after a mastectomy, but this typically requires a specific referral from a doctor. In addition, the massage therapist performing the breast massage should be specially trained to provide this form of therapy in a proper manner. It also typically requires written consent from the patient.
Any Kind of Nonconsensual Touching Can Constitute Abuse
Although it is usually never acceptable to touch the sensitive areas of a patient, it is important to note that any form of touching may constitute abuse if it is unwanted. For example, a massage therapist may start touching your feet without your request or consent. If you are uncomfortable with having your feet touched, you can and should tell the therapist to stop. If they continue, this is a clear form of abuse and a violation of normal massage therapy guidelines.
The same logic applies to virtually any other part of your body, including your back, neck, ears, legs, arms, stomach, and so on. As a patient, you have the power to stop the massage at any point. If the massage therapist continues to touch you despite your protests, they are breaking the law and committing a form of abuse.
Using Certain Body Parts to Massage Clients is Inappropriate
It should also be noted that using certain body parts to touch the client is inappropriate and potentially unlawful. For example, the person performing the massage may physically contact the client with their breasts and use their own sensitive area to massage areas of the body. Even if the areas of the body being touched are not sensitive, the fact that the massage therapist is using their own sensitive area constitutes abuse. This is also illegal.
Touching the Genitals May Be Either Sexual Abuse or Prostitution
Touching the genital area is a blatant form of abuse. Depending on the jurisdiction and the situation, this might constitute sexual abuse or prostitution. If you allow the contact to happen, you could be charged with soliciting prostitution. This is because you are essentially paying someone to perform a sex act, and it is yet another reason to speak out and withdraw your consent if this touching continues. As long as you protest the touching, the massage therapist will face legal consequences for sexual abuse – and you will not face any legal consequences whatsoever.
Some massage therapists may claim that the touching was accidental after being accused of sexual abuse. This excuse may not hold up in court. While one accidental touch may be theoretically acceptable, repeated “accidental” touches begin to draw suspicion. Even if a massage therapist repeatedly grazes their hand over a sensitive area and apologizes each time, this may constitute sexual abuse.
Massage therapists must be very careful not to touch sensitive areas while being mindful of their hands. They are expected to be professional and avoid making continued mistakes. In many cases, accidental touching is not accidental at all – but rather fully intentional sexual abuse behind a thin veil of false clumsiness.
Many Jurisdictions Have Their Own Restrictions
When it comes to unlawful touching, many jurisdictions have their own unique regulations. For example, Santa Monica has its own specific code when it comes to massage therapists. This code states that:
“No massage technician shall massage the genitals, buttocks, gluteal fold, or anal area of any patron, or the breasts of any female patron, nor shall any operator or responsible employee of a massage establishment allow or permit such massage. No massage technician shall make intentional contact or occasional and repetitive contact with the genitals, buttocks, gluteal fold, or anus of any patron, or the breasts of any female patron.”
In other words, the touching of sensitive areas in Santa Monica is never allowed under any circumstances.
Can I Sue a Massage Parlor for Unwanted Touching?
If you are wondering whether you can sue a massage parlor for unwanted touching, your best bet is to get in touch with an experienced massage abuse attorney in California. Our legal professionals can assess your unique situation and determine whether or not you can file a lawsuit.
Book a Consultation With Mary Alexander & Associates Today
If you have been searching for a qualified massage abuse attorney in California, look no further than Mary Alexander & Associates. We know that massage abuse is a pervasive and damaging issue in the Golden State. With our help, you can strive for the best possible outcomes. Book a consultation today to discuss your options in more detail. We approach allegations of abuse with a respectful, professional mindset. If you believe that you were touched inappropriately, your feelings and opinions matter. It is time to speak out. Reach out today to get started.