Hi Dr. TurndorfI am 26, an at-home mum of two and last fall on three separate occasions I caught my neighbor standing 18′ from his bedroom window with a light directed at his genitals–completely naked and masturbating, looking in my kitchen window.I told my husband last fall and he went over and politely threatened the guy to close his curtains. It hasn’t happened again until last week, when it happened twice. He waits until his wife leaves for work. Instead of waiting for my rage-prone husband to go over there and do damage, I called the local police and he went over their house when he and his wife were home and talked to them.I had explained everything to the officer, who told me I had done the right thing and if it happens again I should file charges; but I talked to the neighbor ‘s wife yesterday and she giggled about it, saying ‘oh, we must have forgotten to lower the shades. . . so sorry, it won’t happen again. ‘She does not have any idea of what was actually happening. Since talking to her, I am concerned that the truth was not brought out when the officer talked to them and hence there is no real incentive for him to stop.I don’t feel safe with him home next door. I am afraid for his wife that he is not just a little creepy but very sick. I don’t think I should have to live with shuttered windows.Should I write his wife a letter telling her exactly what the problem is? Am I making too big a deal out of this? I don’t like feeling afraid.Thanks
I understand that you feel threatened by this man, but I don’t believe that you are in any danger. Your neighbor is an exhibitionist, which is a disorder that involves intense, recurrent, and sexually arousing fantasies surrounding the exposure of one’s genitals. This may, in turn, translate into putting this fantasy into action and engaging in these behaviors.What you need to know is that a key feature of this disorder is the need to expose oneself to a stranger or unsuspecting person. This means that your neighbor isn’t invested in getting near you and he certainly isn’t out to accost you sexually.You might also like to know that the urge to expose one’s genitals is a normally occurring urge in childhood. Children often have a natural curiosity about their genitals and the genitals of others. Young children may like to try to shock adults or other children by showing their genitals or underwear. This is typically a passing phase and only calls for professional treatment if it persists.Similarly, adolescents throughout the ages often express their anger or disapproval through’mooning.’If something goes wrong during the exhibitionistic phase of childhood, if, for example, a child is punished for his/her natural urges to expose him or herself, that child will be scarred.This scarring results in a fixation at this point of development; this fixation, in turn, results in a compulsive need to repeat the behavior, hoping for a better outcome. Unfortunately, instead of receiving the accepting, nonjudgmental response that he/she should have received as a child, society reacts very harshly to such individuals, thereby re-injuring rather than healing that person.So, I wouldn’t be concerned or afraid. I would rather take pity on this poor man. If you want him to stop targeting you, then act disinterested. When you are no longer shocked, and he sees that he can’t get a rise out of you, he will lose interest in exposing himself to you.