Intended Date of Award

2015

Degree Name

Doctorate in Public Administration (DPA)

Chair

Reid Zimmerman, PhD, Hamline School of Business

Vice-Chair

Jeri Boisvert, Minnesota Office of Justice Programs, Executive Director (retired)

Committee Member

Kris Norman-Major, PhD, Hamline School of Business, Director of Public Administration Programs

Abstract

This study explored domestic violence in energy boomtowns to answer the questions: What issues are confronting social service professionals who are in a position to identify and respond to female victims of domestic violence in rural North Dakota? What opportunities do professionals cite in identifying and responding to female victims of domestic violence in rural areas and boomtowns? Further, how has the professionals’ experience of the oil boom changed their methods of identifying and responding to female victims of domestic violence? The study used a qualitative approach through a focus group and interviews with the program directors of rural domestic violence advocacy organizations in the state as key informants on the issue. Findings were analyzed through the lens of literature on domestic violence in general and in rural areas in particular, the boomtown social disruption hypothesis, and feminist perspectives on addressing domestic violence.

Findings were consistent with literature about domestic violence in rural areas and in boomtowns. Findings also revealed that certain barriers become more pronounced during an energy boom, including the severity of abuse, the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse issues, access to and costs of transportation and housing, and the necessity of a community-coordinated response. Recommendations for public policymakers and administrators include the State’s adoption of a definition of domestic violence that includes more than physical violence, exploration of telehealth for mental health and substance abuse services, development of state-wide community-coordinated responses, and investment in the organizational capacities of those agencies responding to trauma.