I’m a certified female massage therapist, 36, unable to work in that field since Covid. I’d built a devoted clientele of women and men through house-call appointments.
I’ve found other employment but have been troubled recently by a situation that arose four years ago with a man who was a very regular massage client.
He’s married, much older than me and held a prestigious job. His wife was usually at work when I massaged him.
He began to get too familiar - flattering me, trying to hug me and making sexual comments.
I considered telling him that I couldn’t give massage therapy to him any longer but I had to consider that the weekly income I received from regular clients was how I paid my rent.
But he became manipulative e.g., inviting me to stay for lunch after the appointments. I wondered if I should tell his wife. But I hated drawing her into this and possibly affecting their relationship. I was aware of how more easily he’d be believed, rather than me, if I complained about him.
I’m writing all this because I had a very disturbing nightmare recently, remembering this man even rubbing against me when he tried for a hug. I awoke very upset which surprised me since I’ve had no contact with him since the pandemic.
I’m not a woman who’s uncomfortable around men and haven’t felt discomfort with other male clients. I’m wondering if I should speak to a therapist about this.
There’s an element of #MeToo factors in your account, involving a man of high prestige whose regular hiring of your massage services carries some financial weight in your life.
Yet I’m sure others might respond that you were an adult with free will when this was happening, and could’ve told him you can no longer continue to be his massage therapist.
However, COVID-19 served as a logical opportunity for you to avoid having to call him out on his behaviour more forcefully, or informing his wife.
As someone who’s previously received and published close to 100 letters from both women and men in 2017-2018 regarding #MeToo sexually inappropriate incidents (and far worse) that’s haunted them for decades, your story is not unfamiliar in how it’s affected you.
Fearsome and painful situations that don’t get resolved can live in our subconscious. If you have repeated nightmares, talking to a psychotherapist may be very helpful.
Certainly, even if you return to your original work, you must not accept this man as a client ever again. If he tries to make contact in any way, tell him flatly that you’re not interested and if he persists, you will have to report his inappropriate behaviour towards you to the police.
FEEDBACK Regarding the hurt grandmother whose five-year-old granddaughter is rude and dislikes her (April 28):
Reader – “There are three flashing warning signs in this woman’s letter. She doesn’t say a single loving word about her granddaughter, acknowledges zero responsibility for the state of the relationship, and expresses judgement and resentment toward every other adult described.
“Only two facts are clear, the "other grandparents" have chosen to be a daily presence in the child’s life and the author goes to Florida for six months every year.
“There’s nothing wrong with that but expecting it to have no effect on your relationships with people back home, especially growing children, shows a self-centred immaturity that no child, vulnerable as they are, could safely overlook.”
Reader #2 – “This situation sadly also rings true for me. My son and daughter-in-law live far from me, with a beautiful daughter, now 20, whom I’m told is mentally ill and suffers anorexia.
“I’ve always adored her but since she was 16, when the family visited me, I’ve been refused contact with her.
“My son told me that during that visit, I told his wife that my granddaughter’s illness was her fault. Not true, I’d never blame anyone for this terrible situation!
“It’s caused me great mental anguish as I’m nearing the end of my days. I’m writing to get it in the open. Can you suggest something?”
Ellie - Tell your son that your granddaughter is still deeply loved by you. Write that in your will, too. Add that you regret his wife’s feeling that you blamed her. Say that’s not so, but you understand how agonizing the young woman’s condition is for everyone, including you.
Tip of the day:
Any woman or man who feels threatened by someone’s sexual comments/touch/threats should report all to police.