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New stalking law in Texas could help curb domestic violence

More than 3.4 million people are stalked each year, and such behavior sometimes leads to domestic violence. January is Stalking Awareness Month, and many agencies and advocacy groups are hoping to highlight the problem.

The subject has been in the news anyway because of a new stalking law in Texas. The new legislation, enacted last September, is designed to redefine stalking to better protect victims of potential violence.

According to YourHoustonNews.com, under the old law, it was often difficult for prosecutors to prove a stalking offense if a person used different forms of stalking behavior. Under the new law, stalking has been redefined as including actions other than "following a victim or repeated actions of the same kind."

The law's new language allows stalking to include the victim's current dating partner. It also includes the use of social media, including texting and Facebook. The law is supported by the Texas Council on Family Violence.

Advocates hope that the new law will keep perpetrators from turning a threat into actual violence. YourHoustonNews.com's article provides a staggering statistic: about 75 percent of female homicides and 85 percent of attempted female homicides involved some sort of prior stalking.

Most violence is not that extreme, but legislators hope that the new law will protect victims from any sort of violence after stalking. According to the article, one legislator says the new law should allow prosecutors to "have the tools at their disposal to effectively prove this charge and to get a victim out of harm's way."

Source: YourHoustonNews.com, "New law expands definition of stalking," Y.O. Orozco, Jan. 5, 2012

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