New Fight On Domestic Violence

Vice President Al Gore announced Friday that $223 million in government grants will be used to fight violence against women. He also called on Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate stalkers who use the Internet to attack their victims.

"As a society, as a country, as a national family, we don't have to put up with this kind of abuse, and we will not," Gore said in a ceremony in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

The grants are intended to help communities provide services to victims of domestic violence and foster collaboration between victims' advocates, prosecutors, police officers and judges.

Gore asked Attorney General Reno to conduct a review of "cyber stalking," develop strategies to combat the problem, and report back in 90 days. Cyber stalking is persistent, unwanted harassment communicated over the Internet.

"The Internet is presenting us with cases we have never seen before," Gore said. "And make no mistake, this kind of harassment can be as frightening and as real as being followed and watched in your neighborhood or in your home."

Gore said $138 million will go to states and territories under the S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women program, to strengthen the criminal justice system's response to domestic violence. States will be required to allocate at least 25 percent of the grant money to law enforcement, prosecutors and victim services.

An additional $62 million will go to battered women's shelters through the Department of Health and Human Services. The funding will pay for counseling, legal assistance, emergency aid and referral services for women and children seeking to escape violent homes.

Another $23 million will be used for the coordination of criminal justice efforts against domestic violence such as creating centralized units of police, prosecutors and judiciary officials to handle those cases.