Danielle’s Fight to Hold Massage Envy Accountable for How the Company Treats Sexual Assault Victims
Over the weekend, Katie Baker at BuzzFeed News posted a piece that has gone viral about Massage Envy, the largest chain of massage franchises in the United States. Her investigation found that more than 180 people have filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports and state board complaints against Massage Envy spas, their employees, and the national company.
One of the brave women who has come forward to tell her story is Danielle Dick. A month ago, Danielle wrote about how she tried to have a relaxing moment at her local Massage Envy because of her demanding schedule as the mom of an energetic little boy and a full time college professor. The massage therapist she went to that day put his hand over her mouth and violated her.
“As awful as the assault was, what happened next at the hands of Massage Envy made it even worse,” Danielle wrote. “Despite the massage therapist’s whispered demand at the end of our session ‘Our little secret, OK?,’ I immediately reported the incident to the manager on duty at Massage Envy, and repeatedly told her that we needed to call the police. She told me that was not necessary because Massage Envy would handle it internally. She called her manager, and while she was on the phone, I repeatedly asked to speak to that manager and they refused to allow me to get on the phone with that person. The manager did call the next day — to tell me that they understood that I was ‘unhappy with my massage experience,’ so they would not charge me for the massage.”
The BuzzFeed piece exposed what Danielle and many others would later discover the hard way.
“BuzzFeed News found the company’s policies on reporting improper conduct do more to protect the company brand than to ensure customer complaints are handled appropriately. Customers have been violated in shocking ways, then seen their reports brushed aside, while offending therapists have been allowed to keep their professional standing with no consequences.”
Hundreds of media organizations have reported on the BuzzFeed News investigation, including CBS, Glamour, USA Today, and NBC News. Susan Ingram helped U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania introduce bipartisan federal legislation that would require owners and employees of spas like Massage Envy to report sexual assault allegations to police. Such a law would protect women from companies that don’t have stringent policies in place.
In the meantime, in addition to taking legal action against Massage Envy, Danielle has started a petition on Change.org calling on the company to change its corporate policy to put better procedures in place to protect clients and support individuals who are sexually assaulted at Massage Envy stores. “The way they handled my assault was horrific,” she wrote. “Let’s change that for others.” As of Monday afternoon, more than 55,000 had signed Danielle’s petition.