Following a viral video wherein a TikToker accuses a chiropractor of sexual assault, at least a dozen other TikTokers say they or people they know have experienced similar physical or verbal harassment from chiropractors.
In a TikTok posted on Feb. 3 that has garnered 295,000 views, TikToker @phagetron says that a chiropractor pushed his hard penis into the TikToker’s hand, presumably during a chiropractic appointment. The user is far from the only one who says he had an experience wherein a chiropractor acted inappropriately toward him.
Although many comments on @phagetron’s video made light of his experience, others identified with it. (The Daily Dot reached out to the TikToker via email.)
“This happened to me but he did it to my knee,” user @eightjuaneeight commented. “I was underage.”
“My friend was SA’d [sexually assaulted] by a chiropractor,” @annalisavirginia wrote. “She posted a google review of his practice about what happened to her and they removed it.”
Another TikToker, Joe Gulmi (@joeyglasses), stitched @phagetron’s video and said, “We’re taking chiropractors out in 2022 baby.”
“Let’s go, start a revolution,” he said in his TikTok, which received over 31,000 likes and almost 500 comments. Many of the commenters shared their upsetting experiences with chiropractors.
“I was groped by my first experience with one,” @d_lawson said.
“I was kissed by a chiropractor when I thought he was just tilting my head back,” @juliajenee commented. “My ex-chiro kissed me after I cried about joint pain,” @mia_mynea wrote.
“I had to stop going to my [chiropractor] when he kept listing off his ideal woman and it was all distinct qualities I had,” @evileyebimbo commented. They also wrote that the chiropractor continuously “walked in on [them] changing.”
“My chiropractor invited me on a trip to France with him,” @forbiddenfaerie commented, “when I was 16.”
“When I asked my chiropractor why the crack he did involved smacking my ass he said ‘because you’ve been a bad girl,'” @moreattentionpleasee commented.
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), a body of chiropractors that does significant lobbying work for the profession, acknowledges the possibility of sexual assault by a chiropractor on a patient in its code of ethics and calls it a “violation of public trust.”
“The doctor-patient relationship requires the doctor of chiropractic to exercise utmost care that he or she will do nothing to exploit the trust and dependency of the patient,” the code of ethics reads. “Sexual misconduct is a form of behavior that adversely affects the public welfare and harms patients individually and collectively. Sexual misconduct exploits the doctor-patient relationship.”
In an email statement to the Daily Dot, the ACA reiterated its Code of Ethics and said that “the law states that touching that goes beyond what is clinically required could constitute sexual battery or sexual abuse.
“A patient who believes that such is the case should report the incident to the police and to the state chiropractic licensing board.”
Some commenters on Gulmi’s video referenced situations in which patients reported on chiropractors’ actions.
“My old friend’s husband is a chiropractor & he had to go to jail for a while bc he told a bunch of women he had to hold their boobs to figure out if they were big enough to cause any back issues,” @forbiddenfaerie commented. “The women felt uncomfortable after & researched to realize that was just assault disguised as ‘alternative medicine.'” She said that the chiropractor is still practicing.
Gulmi commented on his video saying that he “didn’t even know how big of an issue we had on our hands until reading all these comments,” and encouraged TikTok users to keep commenting about their adverse experiences with chiropractors.
In an Instagram direct message to the Daily Dot, Gulmi said that he originally stitched @phagetron’s video for comedy purposes and that he was “genuinely appalled” by the comments the video received.
“I think there is a ton of sexual assault going on within that field that is not getting any attention whatsoever,” he told the Daily Dot.
In the U.S., chiropractors are not medical doctors because they do not have a Doctor of Medicine degree. They do, however, graduate with a doctor of chiropractic degree and “are licensed practitioners,” according to Healthline.
Craig Little, the president and CEO of the Council of Chiropractic Education, told the Daily Dot in an email that chiropractors are regulated by jurisdictional licensing authorities by state and that the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards is a national organization of state regulatory bodies.
Little’s statement on behalf of the Council of Chiropractic Education echoed that of the ACA.
“Sexual assault and/or acting inappropriately toward a patient is a grave breach of professional conduct and must be reported for the safety of all patients,” he wrote. Little also directed those who have had adverse experiences with chiropractors to find a chiropractic regulatory board in their state to report the incident. Jon Schwartzbauer, executive director of the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards, gave the Daily Dot a similar statement and added that those who believe they have been sexually assaulted by chiropractors should report their experiences to the police.
Their videos tend to go viral because chiropractic adjustments result in a “popping,” “cracking,” and/or generally satisfying sound for the viewer. The sound comes from “high velocity/low amplitude thrust being administered to the joint that is not moving as it should,” according to Pittsburgh Physical Medicine.
Both Alex VanDerschelden (@occhiropractor) and Brian Meenan (@pittsburghchiropractor) put small microphones on patients to capture those cracking sounds. (The Daily Dot reached out to both Meenan and VanDerschelden via email.)
Comments on both of the chiropractors’ videos sexualize the experience of getting one’s muscles readjusted—which is not the fault of VanDerschelden or Meenan.
In fact, Meenan recently made a TikTok readdressing the boundaries that can be crossed between chiropractor and patient. In it, he reacts to a chiropractic adjustment wherein a chiropractor’s hands are on a woman’s breasts.
After wincing, Meenan says that the man’s hands are “in some tricky areas that they probably shouldn’t be in unless this is his wife.”
“He’s probably attempting to adjust the sternocostal joint, which is where the sternum meets the ribs,” Meenan says. “However there’s much better ways to do it where your hands don’t look like that and it’s not like that.”
Some commenters on Meenan’s video expressed that they’d like Meenan to “try” the method shown in the video “on [them],” while others reacted to it less diplomatically than Meenan did.
“[Majorly suspicious] and [definitely] could be done more professionally!” @drbyronagapay, a chiropractor with almost 55,000 followers on TikTok commented. “No wonder people think some [chiropractors] are creeps.”
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