The Mighty Logo

A Man Flashed Me, and Yes, It Was Traumatic

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Recently, while walking my pup on what seemed like a “normal” Saturday afternoon, a man called me to his parked vehicle and demanded I look at his fully erect penis with his pants down. It has changed how I feel in my own home and stolen my sense of safety.

Perhaps there have always been perverted men who demand women look at their man parts, but the brazenness I witnessed opened my eyes, and has made me aware of my surroundings.

I used to think I was a strong, independent woman. I worked in New York City for years. I commuted into Penn Station. I have traveled across the country alone. I am always aware of my surroundings. At least I thought I was.

I had just finished a bike ride and decided to give my pup a quick walk around the block before jumping in the shower. I was sweaty and gross. Halfway through my walk I realized I forgot my cell phone on the kitchen table. What could possibly happen around the block from my home in my cute little beach neighborhood? I have always felt safe here; in fact, the police drive up and down our busy street daily.

It happened just 200 steps from my front door.

I observed a young man sitting in a white vehicle with his car turned off. I could see him holding his cell phone in his left hand. He was clean cut and young, the kind of person a child would go up to. I then heard him asking me for directions to Broadway. I stayed on the sidewalk and proceeded to give him directions. Suddenly, he interrupted me and said in a stern voice, “No, come closer. I want to show you something.” Instantly, my stomach dropped. I clenched the dog leash and my entire body immediately tensed up. I knew nothing good was going to come out of what seemed like a “normal-looking guy” asking for simple directions. I could hear my Dad in my head, telling me, “I told you never go up to a stranger’s car.” I let my guard down and now, I was afraid of what is about to happen just steps from my home.

Without getting closer, I looked into his vehicle to discover his seat reclined all the way back, his body propped up, his pants down; he’s holding his cell phone in one hand and his fully erect penis in the other.

Instantly, I became totally enraged. Enraged that this “man” would think it’s “normal” to behave like this in a place where children play, where I walk my dog numerous times a day, where I live! Enraged that this man would think I want to look at this and enraged to think this pervert was trying to humiliate me or even control me.

I was now in a complete fury. I was raging.

I locked eyes with him and berated him. I told him he was sick and to get out of here, now. I told him I was getting his license plate and I was calling the police.

And then it got weird. He apologized, slumped down in his seat, tucked his you-know-what between his legs, did a U-turn in the street (giving me enough time to get his plate) and drove away.

Reciting the license plate number over and over, I ran into my house. I was now screaming for my husband. In the safety of my own home, I went from an enraged, independent woman to a terrified little girl. Trembling, I told my husband what just happened and we called the police.

As the days go on, I become infuriated. I’m finding myself dwelling on what happened, and I am finding myself not feeling safe walking my dog in front of my own home. The cute little beach town that I have grown to love no longer feels safe to me. Did this guy happen to see where I live? Will he return because I called the police? For the first week I stopped opening my downstairs blinds when I’m home alone out of fear of this guy coming back to retaliate. I feel violated by what happened just steps from my house. The “what ifs” now haunt me with each passing day.

As I begin to tell friends what happened, the men make jokes and laugh it off. I have been asked, “are you really offended that some dude pulled out his man parts?” Or, “was he manscaped?”

I then find myself explaining that no, in fact, his pants were down, he was full flagstaff with his vehicle turned off. This wasn’t just some drunk college kid going streaking.

But when I tell the women, they become terrified for their safety. The women are enraged that such a vile act has happened in our cute little town.

How sad that an offense like flashing is often trivialized by so many. Depending upon the circumstances, it is a very uncomfortable experience because you have no idea what the man is going to do next.

Flashing is an angry pathetic act. These men are low-lives who are so unskilled at communicating with women that they find it easier to pull down their pants rather than to say hello. These “men” want a reaction.

In 2017, author Jennifer Wright put up a status on Twitter where she asked women who have been flashed a penis to speak up on their experiences. The responses are astounding. Countless women have been through this more than one would like to imagine and some of the stories are horrific. Maybe if the penalty for flashing was stronger, this sort of deviant behavior it would not be so common. I don’t know, but I do know I should not have to unsafe in my own home, or feel guilty for not having my cell phone with me on a simple walk around my block to be prepared to take a photo as evidence in case some pervert decides to drop his drawers.

Photo by Remy_Loz on Unsplash

Originally published: December 9, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home