Don’t Let These Headlines Be About You

It happened again this week. And as I first suggested last Fall, Ripped from the Headlines… a Warning for Health Advocates, Too we advocates need to pay attention. This isn’t one of those “Oh, that won’t happen to me” moments. It’s easily preventable, and only very wise to do so.

I’m referring to attacks on real estate agents, this time in St. Petersburg, Florida. Two agents showing homes just a few miles apart were attacked at gunpoint, tied up, and robbed – and traumatized. I don’t think any of us can imagine the horror.

The perpetrator has not been caught (yet) – he’s still out there. And I guarantee you that today there are real estate agents showing homes by themselves to individuals they have never met – because they all think it can’t happen to them. Fools.

Turns out there have been a handful of additional instances of real estate agents being attacked in other locations. One agent was kidnapped and sexually abused in Gilbert, Arizona, another was beaten and robbed in San Antonio, Texas, still another in Laguna Niguel, California.

All women. All over the age of 50. Every one of them.

Female and over the age of 50 – we could be describing most of the patient advocates who are meeting with prospective clients for the first time, too. (About 95% of APHA’s members are female.) But gentlemen, please don’t think this leaves you less vulnerable.

In the case of the agent in Texas, in the past she had actually shown several homes to the man who attacked her, so he wasn’t a total stranger. Her attack took place in 2010, and now she speaks to groups about her experience, making safety suggestions.

Her number one recommendation? Trust your instincts. If something seems “off” or just doesn’t feel right, you need to take steps to prevent any sort of situation where you are alone with that person. Better to avoid the problem than to find yourself in trouble, needing to defend yourself.


Please take steps to keep yourself safe by tuning in to your intuition, taking someone else with you to a meeting with someone new, and being sure someone else knows where you are when you call on clients, even in public places.

Patient advocacy isn’t generally regarded as a dangerous profession. So let’s not turn it into something that is – or could be – by taking unnecessary risks.

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