Money Helps Women In Western North Dakota - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Money Helps Women In Western North Dakota

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A new Department of Justice initiative will provide important resources to victims in the Bakken region.

The western portion of has seen a dramatic increase in population. More people equals more crime. And that includes crimes against women.

"We have big city crime, big city population, but we have small town resources. So, we don't have enough," says Fort Berthold Coalition Against Violence executive director Sadie Young Bird.

That's why the Justice Department's Office on Violence Against Women is launching a $3 million initiative for the Bakken Region.

U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon says the funds are part of a robust federal effort targeted at protecting women.

"What we're seeing at some of the shelters in western North Dakota is, unfortunately, people showing up seeking services, there aren't enough resources, and they aren't able to help them. That puts that woman in a terrible position. If she has no place to go to a shelter, she often finds herself forced to return to that situation of violence she's trying to escape," says Purdon.

The Violence Against Women Bakken Initiative will create dedicated resources to provide services to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. It will also make it easier for tribal prosecutors to address crimes against women.

"It will provide a special U.S. prosecutor who will be able to prosecute domestic violence and sexual crimes the reservation on a federal level," says Young Bird.

But the two-fold effort might not be enough.

"We definitely need more resources for more staff, additional space to house folks longer. It's just really put a crunch on their budgets, because the requests that they are receiving have just increased so dramatically and so quickly," says Janelle Moos, Council on Abused Women's Services.

Moos says the money will only help meet the most immediate needs, which include legal services and mental health and addiction services.

In areas like Fort Berthold, the number of women seeking help has quadrupled in the last four years.

The funds will be available this summer.

The Fort Berthold Reservation opened its first women's shelter this week. The newly renovated building has twenty beds. Young Bird says until now, it's had to rely on help from programs in Bismarck and Minot.

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