I recently found a new LMP that I really liked, but I had a questionable experience with him this week.
I had seen him once before, last December, and went in for my second appointment on Monday. Near the end of the massage, he was working on my neck and asked me if it would be ok if he worked on my chest. I said yes, because in general I think bodies are bodies, so not every form of touch has to be sexual, and my pecs were sore, so yeah—help a sister out. I really do think touch, even in areas deemed "intimate areas" by American society (aka breasts), is not necessarily inherently sexual, and I was willing to forget the social norms in favor of what I hoped was a more clinical approach to actual anatomy (plus we cis-lady folk tend to get ignored in that area precisely because I think so many LMP's are afraid of stepping over the line, which is totally understandable, but no one had ever offered to work on my pecs before and I was eager to give it a go).
He kind of dug in a little bit, and then as he got more and more invasive, asked me two more times, "Is this ok?" I responded with verbal consent both times. However, shortly after that last time I said yes, I sensed a change. It was becoming less of a pectoral muscle massage and more of just... a breast massage. I started to feel pretty turned on by his touch, which in the moment I regarded as a positive side-effect of a good massage. However, it kept going long enough for me to get the sense that he was also really turned on and the touch changed in ways that made me like he was actively trying to turn me on. (Less muscle massage, more light stroking and squeezing—he even tapped my nipples at one point.) This change happened so quickly I didn't really have time to react and tell him to stop, and I think the fact that I was so relaxed made it hard for me to realize what was happening until after I felt like a line was crossed.
I finally got kind of nervous and just pulled up the sheet, and shortly thereafter the massage ended. He made some sort of comment at the end about how we did good work and how those "hormones released are good for relaxation." I kind of think that is bullshit, because I definitely do not feel more relaxed when someone is turning me on—those feelings of relaxation come later, after the "happy ending." I was kind of wigged out I beat it out of there pretty quickly.
A few things struck me as odd.
1. I felt uncomfortable, which sucks, especially because I have been sexually assaulted in the past and it brought up some pretty nasty memories.
2. I looked at the clock as I was leaving and we were 20 minutes over time—meaning that most of that part of the massage happened "after hours." So we were alone in the office.
3. This was only my second appointment with the guy, which, even though I'm pretty open and accepting to touch, it seems odd to go that close to the line when you don't have an established trust with your patient (like, it may have been different if this was someone I had been seeing regularly for 8 months and we worked up to that level of intimacy so I didn't have to question whether he had ulterior motives).
Now that you know the whole situation in detail, Dan, my question is this: Even if I offered verbal consent, did something shady take place? My eyes were closed and I have no way of proving that he was being voyeuristic or inappropriate in any way, but I also feel gross and dirty about the whole thing. If you think there was foul play, should I do anything? I recognize that me saying anything to either him or the clinic he works at could have disastrous effects for this guy's livelihood, but I also know there is a risk that this has happened to other women. Then again, maybe this was a one-time thing, and he got carried away and didn't realize what was happening either until he was over the line? I don't know what to do, but I'm not sleeping very well since then and I can't stop questioning my sanity about what really happened.
I would greatly appreciate your advice. Thanks for everything you do for everyone everywhere.
Make A Name Up For Me
You didn't consent to an erotic massage, MANUFM, you consented to some work being done to your chest—your pecs, not your breasts or your nipples.
There's no way to massage your chest muscles—your pecs—without touching your breasts, of course, so this massage came with a built-in risk for a "positive side-effect," i.e. your becoming aroused. And arousing you was either your LMP's intention all along... or your arousal was an accident... and your accidentally-/unintentionally-induced arousal prompted your LMP to become aroused... and his arousal prompted him forget his training and his professionalism and take this massage in more explicitly erotic direction (stroking, squeezing, tapping)... and by the time you sensed things were headed to a place (or had already arrived in a place) that made you uncomfortable... it was too late. The damage had been done by the time you pulled the plug/pulled up the sheet.
My money is on the former—arousing you was his intention all along—because Occam's Razor and shit.
A few quick thoughts...
1. I'm so sorry you were sexually assaulted. I so want to live in world where no one is subject to sexual violence—or any other kind of violence.
2. Again, I don't think this was an innocent chest massage that spun out of control. I think your LMP put the moves on you when you were vulnerable—when you were nude, when the two of you were alone in the clinic after hours. Now there are probably some men and women out there whose LMPs have put the moves on them and who have nothing but good things to say about the experience. But in those cases I'm guessing the LMP was either honest and direct—they asked, "Wanna happy ending?" or "Wanna fuck?", not, "Would it be okay if I worked on your chest?"—or the LMPs took a potentially career-ending risk and lucked the fuck out, i.e. the client was only too delighted by the unexpected place their massage went. (For the record: LMPs are much, much likelier to be hit on by clients than vice-versa, and almost all LMPs regard passes made by clients as workplace sexual harassment, not as a perk.
3. This strikes me as a slight, mild and sex-negative double standard: If becoming aroused while receiving a massage can be seen a "positive side-effect" for a client... then becoming aroused while giving a massage has to be viewed as a "positive side-effect" for an LMP. A client's arousal or an LMP's arousal only becomes a problem when the client or the LMP telegraphs their arousal in a way that makes the other person in the room feel uncomfortable or unsafe, makes assumptions that aren't true, makes moves that aren't welcome, or obtains consent for one thing ("work on your chest") and then convinces themselves or pretends they've obtained consent for something else entirely ("stroking and squeezing... [tapping on] nipples").
So what should you do?
Say something to the clinic—even at the risk of derailing this LMP's career.
If he had worked with you for a year, MANUFM, if you two had an established professional relationship and a friendly rapport and he misread things/signals/vibes/desires somehow—yeah, maybe he might deserve a pass. But the fact that 1. he pulled this shit on you during your second session, 2. he pulled it on you in a deserted clinic, and 3. he manipulated you on the matter of consent means he doesn't deserve a pass. I wouldn't be surprised if he's pulled this shit on other clients and either gotten away with it or gotten lucky. If you were the first client he pulled this shit on and he gets away with it, MANUFM, he will try to pull this shit again on other women.
Speak to his boss.