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Elizabeth - Human Trafficking Survivor
Human Trafficking Victim Advocate
and Drug and Alcohol Counselor
My name is Elizabeth Quiroz. I am a survivor of human trafficking, a broken foster care system, incarceration and addiction.
I was born in San Francisco and moved to Sacramento at the age of 4. When I was 14, I ran away and went to South San Francisco and I ran the streets of San Francisco and Daly City until I was 26. I moved to Santa Rosa when I was 28 years old. I am 36 years old now and I am a Human Trafficking Victim Advocate and Drug and Alcohol Counselor. God put a burden on my heart to open a safe house here in Sonoma County. With my business partner, Lisa Diaz-McQuaid, we are currently building Redemption House of the Bay Area, a non-profit that helps trafficking victims find freedom.
Growing up, I endured physical abuse and sexual assaults beginning at the age of 4 and rapes from the age of 14 to 26. I come from a family of gang members, drug addicts and alcoholics. At the age of 15, I ran into the arms of my first trafficker. My trafficker got me hooked on meth and my family supplied him with the drugs. For about twelve years, I was addicted and trafficked on the streets of San Francisco. Throughout the years, I went to Valley State Prison and in and out of numerous correctional facilities. At the age of 26, I lost my son and was arrested for the final time. I was numb from all of the horrific abuse. That day brought me back to life though. I was sentenced to a five years prison term in two different counties. I decided to change my life around and today, I have ten years clean. I was granted a full and unconditional Governor’s Pardon from Governor Jerry Brown on Christmas Eve of 2018. In 2019, I received an Associate in Arts degree in Social Advocacy, Behavioral Science, and Human Services, all with Highest Honors. I just graduated from Sonoma State University with my Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with Distinction. Now, I am currently at Arizona State University to obtain my Master’s Degree in Social Justice and Human Rights and will be graduating in 2023. I am the first person in my bloodline to obtain a degree! I am breaking generational curses. I am married now with a blended family. I am a visionary and a pathfinder for the lost and hopeless. Alongside my partner, our long-term goal is to open Redemption House of the Bay Area, a safe house for Human Trafficking victims here in Sonoma County. I choose these goals because God put a burden on my heart to plant seeds of hope to others and lead them to a path of freedom. I am so grateful to be able to share my story and bring hope to others that feel there is NO other way. If I can turn my pain into empowerment to inspire others, then there is hope for those who are still stuck in the grips of human trafficking.
What inspired you and why did you want to be involved in the project, Underwater Transformation?
When I connected with Erena, I was inspired by all of her beautiful pictures and powerful vision to be a part of this amazing project. I have never been a part of underwater photography, so I felt this would be an amazing way to be able to tell my story.
What were your plans for the photo shoot?
My plans for the photo shoot was to just relax and allow my beauty to shine through each pose underwater.
How was the experience with an underwater portrait session?
This experience was beautiful. I felt completely free and loved underwater. I heard God speak to me and He said, “Be at peace.” Because of my past trauma, I am always on edge and ready to go to war. But being under water, I felt like an angel swimming through Heaven in complete peace with no fear.
How was your mood after you finished?
After I was finished with this experience of being under water, I felt relaxed and refreshed. I felt these feelings because I totally let go of all of my stress and fears and just swam under water.
What does WATER mean to you?
When I think of water, I think of all of our fears being washed away. When being in water, there is so much freedom and grace that your body and soul embraces.
The warm water made it easy to move and be myself. I felt protected and safe. It was a peaceful space.
Do you think this experience could help overcome your trauma?
I truly believe this experience has definitely helped me work through my past trauma by feeling complete freedom while under water. I will definitely go back and do a photoshoot underwater.
How did you sleep the night of the photo shoot?
I fell asleep in a deep sleep and I had a dream of me being a part of a team and we were all praying. Usually, I have a hard time staying asleep and I wake up during the night, but this night, I slept all the way through and I had a spiritual dream.
How was Erena working with you?
Erena worked with me by showing me how to relax under water. She took pictures of me being free and at peace. Being a part of this project was something very special to my soul.
What’s your dream?
To open a safe house for trafficking victims and to help them overcome and claim their power and use it for purpose.
Would you recommend underwater transformation to other survivors or anyone?
I would definitely recommend underwater transformation to other survivors because there is healing when being underwater and swimming in complete freedom. This experience definitely changed my life.
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