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Madam Speaker, I'm proud to have introduced House Resolution 82, establishing January as National Stalking Awareness Month.
I hope this resolution serves as a unifying force for the community leaders,policy-makers, and victim service providers. The goal of this resolution is to raise awareness and encourage prevention of stalking by establishing January 2009 as National Stalking Awareness Month.
Stalking, conduct intended to instill fear in a victim, is a crime that occurs in every State in our country. As the cochair and founder of the Congressional Victims Rights Caucus, I have spoken to countless victims and victim service providers about the dangers of stalking and the tragedies that have occurred in their lives.
A January 2009 report from the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics found that during a 1-year period an estimated 3,400,000 people in America reported being stalked. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, this is an increase of 2 million victims per year in the last decade. These statistics are a jarring reminder of the scope and seriousness of this crime.
The Department's study also found that nearly three out of four victims knew their stalker, and approximately one in four victims reported some form of cyberstalking.
Stalkers pursue and harass their victims and are often relentless. Cyberstalkers systemically flood their target's e-mail inbox with obscene, hateful or threatening messages.
Cyberstalkers may also assume the identity of their victim and post information, fictitious or not, to solicit unwanted responses from other people. Although cyberstalking does not involve physical contact with a victim, it is still a serious crime. The widespread use of the Internet and the ease with which hackers can find personal information has made this form of stalking more accessible to criminals.
By establishing January 2009 as National Stalking Awareness Month, Congress can help to educate Americans about the severity of stalking and encourage victims to report these crimes to the police. We recognize and applaud the many law enforcement agencies and victims' services for their effort to combat stalking and increase awareness of services available to stalking victims.
Stalking has only been criminalized for 28 years. Unlike domestic violence stalking is about power and control over the victim. While stalking is now a crime in all 50 States, the District of Columbia and the Federal Government, stalking often leads to other crimes, including physical assault, sexual assault and sometimes homicide. Stalking laws are basic to the individual right of each person in this country to be left alone and their right of privacy.
The best way to attack the threat of stalking is through law enforcement and education, and I encourage victim service providers, law enforcement prosecutors and community leaders to promote awareness of stalking, and I thank them for their efforts every day in making the lives of victims better.
I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.
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