The recent article “Realtor killings jolt Rookie” was a bit unsettling for me. I had to respond. I’ve been presenting personal security programs for 16 years. I’ve presented my “Realty Security: Awareness and Prevention” program to almost every major franchise and to 20 state associations and boards of Realtors. I’m also the featured expert on Realtor Safety in a segment coming up on Inside Edition during Realtor Safety Week.
“Realtor killings jolt Rookie” obviously hit a nerve with rookies and seasoned professionals alike. Do not despair. Everything is going to be alright. In light of recent events, a little panic is ensuing. I know because I’m hearing it from my clients. The hardest part of my job is being the speaker at the meeting of an association after an unfortunate event has occurred. I’m an emotional person so it’s not always easy for me. But it’s what I know and it’s my purpose.
Early on in my career, I scared my clients. Big mistake. Now I empower them. I’ve learned that we all learn when we are pumped with confidence and perspective and we run and hide when we are battered with fear and hopelessness. “Realtor killings jolt Rookie” had an air of hopelessness and panic. It’s totally understandable. Someone loved suffered an unnecessary and horrible end to a successful life.
It’s my job to tell you that it is human nature to be alarmed. But your chances of something drastic happening are very, very slim. Yes, there is a chance, and it is a very slim chance. We all face personal security risks everyday both in our personal and professional lives.
Every profession has its risks. Doctors, lawyers, teachers and nurses are killed every year: some by the hands of others and some through accidents. In addition, an average 28 plumbers are killed each year. The pizza delivery guy was assaulted in my neighborhood last week. Just this weekend, I almost got hit in the head by a rock that was thrown at me by a trespasser when I told him to get off my property. I’m not telling you this to further any angst. I’m saying we all face risks and what I teach is what your mom and dad didn’t tell you.
For most of us growing up, the advice “don’t talk to strangers” was the extent of our security training. And here you are going into vacant houses with total strangers. Mainly what your mom and dad taught you was to give kisses and hugs and to say please and thank you, to have manners at the dinner table and to be cordial towards another. They taught you to worship and to go to school, graduate, get a job, find a mate, get married, buy a house, have babies and live happily ever after. They taught you to be nice and to be civilized. They may have candy-coated life for some of you and never explained violence prevention.
This civilized conditioning suppresses your natural instinctual survival mechanisms that are built in. As a result, most of us are not prepared to defend ourselves in an assault. However if someone were to attack our children in our presence, we’d claw their eyes out of their head. This parental instinct is born when our children take their first breath, and it is never suppressed because it came into our lives as adults.
Violence is a simple fact of life. And most of us have never had a formal talk on what it is and how it impacts us and what our responsibilities are to educate our children and ourselves. My dad told me growing up: “Rob, if someone wants to hurt you, pick up a big stick and whack ’em with it.” Good advice I still use today.
Self-defense is a necessary evil. Evil, meaning you might have to hurt another human being. You have been taught all of your life not to hurt another human being and that’s a good thing. However there are times in life when inflicting bodily pain on another is not only necessary, but also your immediate responsibility as a member of society. Additionally, what good are you to your family injured in a hospital bed, emotionally crippled or dead. So it is your responsibility to protect yourself. The only thing you can do wrong, is to do nothing.
Understand that there always have been, and always will be predators. There will always be predators stalking their prey. Just like in the jungle. But that doesn’t mean you hide in your house and lock your doors and don’t report to work. It means that you take a little time to understand how violence prevention and self defense works and what to do to prevent it from happening to you. I’m not talking about being paranoid, just simple awareness of what your options are to prevent an assault and what to do in the event of an attack.
Being a real estate agent has its risks. You are often isolated and vulnerable and deal with complete strangers. And there are individuals who prey specifically on agents. And as long as you do a little reading, maybe watch a video or take a class, you will increase your chances of avoiding and removing yourself from a dangerous situation.
The recent tragedies are painful reminders of how horrible people can be to one another. It should stand as a sharp reminder that we all need to approach every day with a heightened sense of security.
Like my dad used to tell me, be good, behave and be careful. (I always took one-third of his advice).
Robert L. Siciliano is the author of The Safety Minute, Safety Zone Press, and a professional speaker on the topic of self-defense and personal security and identity theft.
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