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Madam Speaker, as the sponsor of the 2008 National Stalking Awareness Month resolution, I hope this resolution serves as a unifying force for community leaders, policymakers, victim service providers, and able to educate Americans on the serious dangers of stalking. It is a crime that annually affects more than 1 million women and over 400,000 men in our country.
As the cochairman and founder of the Congressional Victims Rights Caucus, and my experience as a prosecutor and a judge, I had met with countless victims and victim service providers about the dangers of stalking.
Unfortunately, stalking is not an isolated occurrence. Two-thirds of the stalkers pursue their victims at least once a week, sometimes daily. Victims often feel that there is no safe place for them to go, no safe place to hide, not even in their homes. Stalking forces victims to relocate, lose their jobs, and cycle into severe depression and anxiety. Some victims live in quiet, desperate lives of fear.
With today's advanced technology, protecting Americans from stalking is even more challenging. Stalkers have a wide range of technologies to pursue on their victims. They use cell phones. They use fax machines, computer spyware, and GPS systems all to track the victim. The Internet now serves cyberstalkers looking for a place to threaten and harass. Even pedophiles on the prowl use cyberstalking for their next victim.
Stalking rates are on the rise because of the new technologies in the Internet. Stalking has only been criminalized in our country for 28 years. California was the first State to make stalking a crime. Like domestic violence, stalking is about power, intimidation, and control over the victim.
While stalking is now a crime in every State and the District of Columbia and the Federal Government, stalking often leads to other crimes, including physical assault, sexual assault, and murder. Stalking laws are basic to the individual right to be left alone and the right of privacy.
The best way to attack the threat of stalking is through law enforcement and education.
I encourage victim service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, and community leaders to promote awareness of stalking, and I thank them for their efforts in making life better for victims.
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