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Area Voices: Gabrielle Congrave Baggenstoss on Sexual Violence, Trafficking & Exploitation


It actually changes your brain. It changes your body, your perception of your body, and it changes your spirit, too. - Gabrielle Congrave Baggenstoss, Support Within Reach


Support Within Reach is an area nonprofit dedicated to helping victims of sexual violence.  Gabrielle Congrave Baggenstoss is a Regional Navigator for Support Within Reach. In this Area Voices segment, she discusses her work, explains sexual exploitation and who is at greatest risk, discusses the prevalence of sex trafficking in our region, addresses date rape, and educates on both the psychological effects of sexual violence and how to help individuals who’ve been traumatized it.  


...sexual exploitation is kind of an umbrella term, actually, and anything from sexual harassment to sexual assault could technically fall under the sexual exploitation umbrella... commercial sexual exploitation would be when anything of value or the promise of anything of value is given in exchange for any sort of sex acts.


...according to Beltrami County Human Services, familial trafficking is unfortunately one of the most common forms of trafficking we see in the northwest region...


...date rape is very common...A lot of times what I see with my clients who have experienced that is they got a couple of drinks at the bar, invited someone over and a person didn't stop when they said no.... There's this idea that you shouldn’t put yourself in that situation to begin with- “Why were you wearing that? Why were you drinking? Why did you go on a drive with them?” It’s Never, “Why did this person rape someone?”  It’s really important that we understand what consent is...You don't have to get into a boxing match to indicate no.


...trauma produces actual physiological changes, including a recalibration of the brain's alarm system, an increase in stress hormone activity and alterations in the system that filters relevant information from irrelevant trauma...One of the side effects of trauma is that we become cut off from our own body. Our brain also begins to send inappropriate alert reactions, and Broca's area is also affected...Broca's area is the part of our brain that gives us the ability to put our experience into kind of a linear, point A to point B narrative... when that's kind of knocked off-line, that's one of the reasons that a lot of times you'll hear people say things like, “Oh, I don't know if I believe that story. Their story was all over the place. It had all these blind spots. It jumped around in time.” And that's actually to be expected because the part of your brain that helps you tell those linear stories is interfered with. And then, of course, whenever you're triggered or have something that brings up that trauma, that happens again...It's not a one time experience. It actually changes your brain.  It changes your body, your perception of your body, and it changes your spirit, too. So all those things have to be addressed.

Find out more in this segment of Area Voices. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with sexual violence and/or psychological effects sexual violence, please call Support Within Reach at 1-800-708-2727.