WRC Addressing Bakken Problems


The Bakken Oil boom is the largest oil boom that Western North Dakota and Eastern Montana has ever experienced. The Bakken spreads across nearly 200,000 square miles (Shaw, Sawicki, 2012). The oil boom’s high wages attract people from all over the United States to North Dakota from poor economies hoping to get a piece of the Bakken. Williston, N.D., has gone from 12,000 residents in 2009 to over 25,000 in 2012 and it expected to climb to nearly 60,000 people in a few years (per Shaw, Sawicki report, 2012).

Not only has the population increased, but housing prices, crimes, and pollution have increased as well. The Bakken has not been kind to Law Enforcement agencies or victim services providers, such as the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) of Glasgow. The numbers of thefts, murders, drug related crimes, sex crimes, domestic violence, and human trafficking has drastically increased. The surge of crime has meant an increase in victims as well as an increase in the number of responses and services provided to those victims by organizations such as the WRC. These responses range from providing travel funds to emergency stays to working with FBI on human trafficking cases

The victims move to such towns as Plentywood, Scobey, St. Marie, Culbertson, Wolf Point and Glasgow with their husbands and boyfriends from other states to work in the oilfields. These victims don't have any support, are not used to living in such rural and isolated places, and are at high risk for further abuse. In addition, the residents of the towns who are most affected by the Bakken are at an even higher risk; the numbers of men far exceed the number of women in these communities. Therefore, the number of sexual assaults, abductions, trafficking, and domestic violence is higher than ever before.

The Women’s Resource Center has been working with many victims who have moved here as result of the Bakken or have been victimized by someone linked to the Bakken. However, up until now the WRC has not received any additional money, staff members, or resources to respond to these crimes or to assist victims in returning to their home states.

In October 2014, the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) state of Montana received a block grant from the Federal Department of Justice (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). These grant monies were awarded in order to respond to victims directly impacted by the Bakken. The MCADSV opened solicitations from the victim service organizations, such as the WRC of Glasgow. The WRC was awarded funding from this grant to hire an advocate, assist in travel funds for victims, assist in paying WRC operational costs, and will help to buy necessities such as food and clothing for victims. The WRC Bakken Community Advocate will take the lead in responding to incidents involving victims and perpetrators that are directly related to the Bakken.

Given the increase in crimes, the WRC staff is also going to increase community awareness and education around safety planning, human trafficking, stalking and dating violence. Trainings and materials are coming soon! The WRC would like to thank the community of Glasgow for their continued support and we look forward to the opportunity to better serve victims and to welcome a new staff member to the WRC team.

Brady Funk is an administrative assistant at the Women's Resource Center in Glasgow.


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