February 26, 2018

Weekly Column: Stalking Awareness And Prevention

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

On January 30, 2017, the Senate passed legislation to promote awareness and encourage the prevention of stalking.  The Senate also commended the efforts of the police, prosecutors and other organizations that provide support for victims of stalking. 

I am an original co-sponsor of S.Res. 390, a resolution designating January 2018 National Stalking Awareness Month, that contains the following statistics:

  • During a 1-year period, an estimated 7.3 million individuals in the United States reported that they had been victims of stalking;
  • Nearly 70 percent of stalking victims were threatened with physical harm by stalkers;
  • 11 percent of victims of stalking reported having been stalked for more than 5 years;
  • Many victims of stalking are forced to take drastic measures to protect themselves, including changing their identities, relocating, changing jobs, or obtaining protection orders;
  • Many victims of stalking do not report stalking to the police or contact a victim service provider, shelter, or hotline; and
  • Individuals 18 to 24 years old experience the highest rates of stalking victimization, and rates of stalking among college students exceed rates of stalking among the general population.

The Senate applauded “the efforts of service providers for victims of stalking, police, prosecutors, national and community organizations, campuses, and private sector supporters to promote awareness of stalking,” and encouraged efforts to increase awareness of stalking and the availability of services for victims.  

Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has helped Idaho nonprofits, governmental agencies and tribes provide life-saving services to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking victims and families in our communities.  It was an honor to serve as the lead Republican sponsor, working with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), in the successful effort to renew the law in 2013 and increase access to assistance for victims of crime.  The law was also meant to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the country, provide needed assistance to law enforcement in prosecuting sexual assault crimes, assist law enforcement in investigating human trafficking crimes and provide for the consolidation of programs to reduce administrative costs and avoid duplication.  It also provided for the establishment of new accountability measures to help ensure that VAWA funds are used efficiently.  Since then, VAWA has continued to provide resources to help women, children and others affected by abuse.  

For those in need of assistance, in addition to many local resources, the U.S. Department of Justice Department Office on Violence Against Women website, at www.justice.gov/ovw/stalking, provides information about stalking, including signs to look for, response tips and links to assistance.  The site also contains links to resources for those who want to help raise awareness about stalking and assistance.  In addition, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and other resources can also be accessed on the website.  

We must build off the progress being made in helping to save lives and prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and continue to work to help provide every opportunity for victims to overcome violence and decrease its prevalence in our communities.  Thank you to all those who are working to assist victims, raise awareness and ensure that more American families are protected from violence.

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