U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

Message from the Assistant Attorney General

Regina B. Schofield, January 2007

Each year in the United States, more than one million women and nearly 375,000 men are stalked.

Despite its seriousness, stalking is sometimes viewed as a minor crime that is romanticized in popular films or thought of as an inconsequential result of unrequited love. But such a casual attitude trivializes a victim’s experience.

In fact, stalking is distinguishable from many other types of crime in two important ways. First, it involves the repeated victimization of an individual selected by the stalker. By its very nature, stalking is a series of acts, rather than a single incident. Second, stalking is partly defined by its impact on the victim.

Stalking creates uncertainty, instills fear, and can completely disrupt lives. Victims of stalking are harassed and intimidated. And according to the report, "Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide," more than three of four women murdered by an intimate partner had been stalked by that partner before the homicide.

Increasingly stalkers are using technology to commit this crime. In one case, a woman in Seattle, Washington, was stalked for months by her estranged husband who clandestinely placed a satellite tracking device inside the dashboard of her SUV, and then monitored her every move and appeared wherever she went.

This month, in recognition of the fourth annual National Stalking Awareness Month, the Office of Justice Programs is releasing a guide for law enforcement about the management of digital evidence. Titled "Digital Evidence in the Courtroom: A Guide for Law Enforcement and Prosecutors", the guide walks law enforcement through all stages of collecting, handling, and storing digital evidence and investigating electronic crimes such as cyber stalking.

In addition, OJP is working with the Office for Violence Against Women, and the Stalking Resource Center, a component of the National Center for Victims of Crime, to raise awareness of stalking. The Stalking Resource Center has a great deal of information on its Web siteand I encourage you to join us in our efforts to combat this crime.

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