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#41 Eliza Bleu- Human Trafficking Survivor and Advocate

The United Nations quotes human trafficking as the hidden figure of crime, with estimates showing that only 0.04% of survivors of human trafficking cases are identified. Our guest for today, Eliza Bleu, is one such survivor who miraculously survived a tragic case of human trafficking right here in the US. As a 17-year-old minor, Eliza moved to LA with big dreams of becoming a star. Forty-eight hours later, the man who promised her heaven on earth sold her to another man for a mere $500. Today Eliza is an advocate combating human, sex, and child trafficking, an industry worth $150 billion. In this episode, Eliza and I discuss facts and figures around human trafficking, detecting child sexual abuse material online, and the Stockholm syndrome in human trafficking. 

[00:05:30] Differentiating the different types of willing adult entertainers
[00:08:20] Having a conversation with survivors
[00:09:47] Why most people link sex trafficking to willing adult entertainment
[00:11:20] Facts around human trafficking
[00:13:33] Eliza's human trafficking story
[00:18:08] Breaking down the process of selling a human being
[00:22:09] Why Eliza returned to her abusers
[00:27:56] The lack of empathy during human trafficking conversations
[00:30:42] Stockholm syndrome and human trafficking
[00:35:08] Why it's hard to track and charge sex traffickers
[00:40:10] Understanding the psychological effects of sex trafficking
[00:43:01] Eliza's journey to healing and restoration
[00:56:10] Detecting child sexual abuse material online
[01:01:03] Are social platforms to blame for online sexual exploitation?
[01:02:40] Why most people are against online paywalls
[01:14:14] Laws around possessing and sharing explicit content online
[01:17:40] Dissecting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
[01:24:10] A look at why prohibition laws never work
[01:25:10] Understanding harm reduction
[01:32:23] Eliza's main motivation and go-to resource when tackling human rights violations
[01:38:30] The empowering effect of sharing your story

Facts About Human Trafficking 
According to the United Nations, human trafficking is when a person is recruited or abducted by threat or force to be exploited, mostly for sex or labor. For the most part, human trafficking is only comparable to modern-day slavery. Sadly, there are more 'slaves' today than there were at the height of slavery itself. They don't come out and ask for help, but they are there; you just don't get to see them. The US State Department estimates there are 24.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide. The problem is, when most people hear the words 'sex trafficking', they automatically assume that it's women and children from overseas who are being forced into sex enslavement. Never will Americans believe that Americans are being trafficked by other Americans. 

Stockholm Syndrome and Sex Trafficking
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response to captivity and abuse where victims develop an attachment with their abusers or captors. Although it's not yet known what prompts this response formation, experts believe it may serve as a coping mechanism for people experiencing trauma. Other than high-profile kidnappings and hostage situations, people living with an abusive partner perfectly sum up this narrative. It's easy to judge them for staying around for the next one-sided boxing match, but it would be best if you empathize with their situation. 
But why do victims find it so difficult to leave? Most sex trafficking victims face an immediate threat to their survival and believe that their abuser is willing and able to carry out the said threat. For others like Eliza, it was a little bit subtle-- emotional abuse. There wasn't any threat to survival at the beginning of the relationship, but once she developed a bond, it was too late. No matter their current circumstances, victims will always be dependent on the abuser. And that's why Eliza returned to the human trafficking world even after enjoying freedom for a while.

Are Social Networks to Blame for Online Sexual Exploitation?
Social networks have been reluctant to censor posts about conspiracy theories, fake news, and online child sexual exploitation. The sad reality is that they sometimes profit from non-consensual content. A great example is a recent accusation where Pornhub was forced to remove over 10 million videos that included videos of child abuse and non-consensual sexual acts from their porn archive. Although amendments have been made to try and censor digital content, digital platforms benefit from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that grants them immunity from liabilities related to third-party content.   
Online sexual exploitation often includes live streaming, grooming, consuming child sexual abuse material, blackmailing children for sexual purposes.

Links and Resources
Eliza’s Twitter https://twitter.com/elizableu
Join the Eliza Community https://eliza.locals.com/