How I Stopped Being a Victim After I Was Attacked


With safety issues still top of mind for real estate professionals across the country since the tragic death of Arkansas agent Beverly Carter in September, we’ve received tons of emails from readers who speak heroically about their own harrowing tales of facing danger in the field. But one in particular touched our hearts: Celeste Barr, GRI, ABR, an agent with Keller Williams Success Realty in Barrington, Ill., wrote to us in response to our blog post about Carter, and she told us of an attack she luckily escaped back in 1991. Barr spoke of the shame she felt as a result of her attack and her long journey to self-empowerment in the years following. She has an important message for all REALTORS® who aim to be safer on the job.

Here’s her full letter:


Celeste Barr

Back when I was a newer agent in 1991 — I had only been in the business for two years — I, too, was attacked. A “buyer” attacked me in the basement of a home. I got away. I was one of the lucky ones. 

For years, I felt ashamed, and, at the time, I didn’t tell anyone what happened. I thought I had done something wrong that gave him permission to do what he did. But I didn’t. I thought I should have seen this coming and that I was to blame. I didn’t, and I wasn’t. I finally shared my story with a family member and learned it wasn’t my fault. The “buyer” was going to find someone to attack, whether it was me or someone else.

If I were to give any advice to anyone in our community of REALTORS®, it would be to listen to your gut more. We’re all so eager to get the next deal; we’re not listening. Even as our gut is screaming, we think it won’t be us.  

If a buyer is giving you more attention than is comfortable to you, assume there is a reason. Plan ahead and have a way out, even if all you have is a lame excuse to leave. You really need to keep a safe zone between you and the client. Have a way out! Keep an open door for YOU!

Being physically attacked creates a myriad of emotions, just like a death does. In my experience, anger has been one of the hardest feelings to overcome — anger at myself for being so stupid and vulnerable. It’s not a rational emotion, but it is real. It allows me now to be prepared before I meet with the public and speak with authority, and to not be a victim.

Graham Wood

Graham Wood is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at

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  1. Michael-Edward Cruz


    You are very brave to tell your story. Sharing experiences like this may just save someones life.

    Thank You,


  2. Celeste –
    I agree with Michael. You are very brave. Courageous. To share your story. Thank you for this gift. You have most likely just saved a life.
    Thank you,

  3. Peggy Cahill

    I have known you a long time but had no idea that such an awful thing happened to you. You are very brave and I am very proud of you and thanks for telling us about it. So glad u are fine . Peggy Cahill

  4. Belinda Johnston

    Thank you for sharing and reminding us that we need to remember that most people are good but to factor in a strategy for safety just in case. Belinda

  5. Kevin Wood

    I am glad to see that this incident can no longer rob you of your joy in life and no longer affect your career in the wonderful world of Real Estate. It is a fantastice story of courage on your part and a blessing to other Realtors because they now have the knowledge and expertise to prevent this from ever happening to them thanks to you. Thank you for sharing your story. Best Wishes!

  6. Even as a man, I have felt uncomfortable at a few showings, like once in my first year when I expected to meet with one person and I get to the house and 5 adult males get out of the prospective buyer’s vehicle. Now that I’ve been in the business a few years, my safety policy is that it is a MUST to meet with clients in my office or a neutral location BEFORE ever meeting at a property. This will cut down or even eliminate the possibility of getting hurt or worse at a showing. In light of the Beverly Carter case, we also now require making a copy of a prospective buyer’s drivers license when we meet for a consultation at our office.

  7. Joan Jarvis

    You are an amazing woman for sharing your story, and I appreciate you for doing so. The only way something can be prevented is for people like you to share and bring this problem to center stage. This has and still is a huge issue and it commands attention.

  8. Lisa Henderso.

    Lovely post with some great advice. Especially,”listen to your gut more.” A excellent book about that very topic is “The Gift of Fear”, by Gavin de Becker. De Becker is a very highly regarded security expert and his advice is spot on.