There has been an alarming rise in violence against real estate agents - enough to create an entire month to recognize the risks that realtors face just doing their job.
In 2019, the National Association of REALTORS® Safety Report made some startling discoveries:
- 23% of REALTORS® experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information.
- 31% of REALTORS felt unsafe during an open house.
Even more, nationwide attention has been cast on a handful of recent crimes against real estate agents. Sadly, that includes Minneapolis.
So what should real estate agents do to take care of their personal safety when it comes to open houses and home showings?
We could tell you to join us for a self-defense class, don't work alone, wear less jewelry - all of these are great ideas, but not always possible and won't always prevent an attack. But we want to give you a list of creative solutions and ideas when it comes to your personal safety.
One of the most important things we teach in our Stay Away Women's Krav Maga Workshop is listening to your intuition. Women especially have been gifted with that gut feeling that, sadly, we are often shamed for. It can be easy to say, "I'm making a big deal out of this," or "I'm sure this is nothing." But if you need to reassure yourself, your intuition has told you something. If you feel this little knot before you enter the house, don't go inside - call someone to meet you or ask if you can reschedule. If you feel it while you're in the house, don't let the person walk behind you - be rude if you need to, but make them walk ahead of you and out of the house.
For an incredible source on learning to listen to your intuition, we highly recommend Gavin De Becker's "The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence." This book will help you recognize the tools attackers use to try and gain your trust, as well as ways to handle whatever manipulation someone tries to throw at you.
Your Self-Defense Tool Is Only Good If You Know How To Use It
The National Association of Realtors notes that in 2019, 49% of REALTORS® carried a self-defense weapon. These weapons included items such as pepper spray, firearms, knives, self-defense keychains, and alarms. We at Valley Self-Defense think that self-defense weapons are an incredible tool, but only as far as you know how to use them.
We highly suggest making sure that your self-defense weapon is in working order, you know how to use it, and you are aware of the pros and cons of what you carry. For example, if you're outside and it's a windy day, will your pepper spray blow back into your face? Knowing that we lose dexterity when we get anxious, have you practiced pulling your firearm under stress? How often are you practicing at the shooting range?
We at Valley Self-Defense highly recommend pepper gel over pepper spray. Pepper gel shoots farther, isn't likely to blow back in your face in weather conditions, and will stick to the face of your attacker. And when it comes to pepper gel and pepper spray, the best company around is SABRE Safety.
When it comes to a firearm, there are defensive shooting classes around the country (including our own at Valley Self-Defense) that will teach you how to pull from your holster in a stressful situation, how to defend yourself in hand-to-hand combat to give you enough time to pull your weapon, and how to move and shoot to defend yourself.
Everything Is A Weapon If You Need It To Be
It's too late - you've got that gut feeling and you're fearing for your safety. You left your weapon in your car and now you are afraid something might happen. What do you do? In Krav Maga, one of the things we discuss is common objects. What are the items at hand right now that you could use to defend yourself? What are the items that are within your grasp that you could use to distract someone?
Maybe it's that vase that you filled with flowers on the living room table. Maybe it's throwing over that chair into the path of the bad guy. Kitchens are always full of sharp objects - bathrooms often are as well.
We've heard before, "Sure, I could throw that, but what if I don't hit them?"
There are always options: if you're near a mirror, throw the item in your hand at the mirror; throw the item at the attacker's face and, even if you don't hit them, they'll at least be distracted, which might get you to a better weapon in the meantime or out the door.
"Siri, Call 911"
We tell you this one from experience: once, while teaching a Krav Maga class, a student asked if you couldn't use your hands if you could use the voice recognition on your phone to call 911. The instructor said, "Let's find out! Siri, call 911." His phone was connected to the speaker and we all heard the phone dial. The amount of people running to the phone to hang it up before the call completed was comical. The sad thing was we did it three more times telling other classes the story!
The moral? If your phone allows voice activation, turn it on. Siri might be what saves your life.
During a workshop, a woman who had been attacked the previous week said to us, "I wouldn't have been able to unlock my phone to call 911 even if I had wanted to in that moment."
This is true - in moments of stress, remembering your passcode or having the dexterity to punch it into your phone is probably unlikely. But your phone may have a trick up its sleeve.
If you hold the power button and the volume button together on an iPhone, a screen will pop up that includes an Emergency SOS slider. If you are able to, you can hit the slider to call 911. If you cannot and you continue to hold the power and volume buttons together, a countdown will begin. If you do not let go before the countdown ends, your iPhone will immediately call 911.
Use. Your. Voice
Use your voice! Yelling and screaming does more than just alert those around you that something is amiss - it helps you breathe and getting as much oxygen into your lungs in a stressful situation.
Sadly, yelling the words "Help!" and "Rape!" might not be helpful. Maura Barclay in her book, "Unbreakable Woman: Compassionate Self Defense & Empowerment" mentions that there are a few reasons for this: the sounds made by the letter "P" can be swallowed, making it harder to hear the word from a distance; people often run in the opposite direction of these words. Maura Barclay suggests using the word "Fire!" instead: it can be yelled loudly, heard clearly, and people often run towards the word "Fire!"
Fight Like Hell
One thing our Krav Maga instructors say is, "If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics are off." Meaning? You do whatever it takes to fight for yourself: biting, scratching, eye-gouging, hair pulling, groin kicks. There are no rules when it comes to your personal safety.
If all else fails, fight like hell. It's the one thing we say to our students and they prove to us each and every day that what we teach is already inside them - we just help them unleash it.
Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.
Is your real estate agency in Minnesota and interested in learning some Krav Maga? Valley Self-Defense can create a customized plan for your office and agents. To learn more, you can email us at email@example.com.
Interested in a self-defense weapon? There are plenty of options on the market, but before you buy, make sure you know the legal status in your state.