Please click and drag the white arrows to see my underwater transformation.
I’m Hailey, 26, born in Santa Clara and grew up in Silicon Valley. My childhood was unique as I spent time caring for myself and hyperfocusing on subjects that interested me that usually others did not understand or thought I was too young to know about. I was often underestimated only because nobody took the time to get to know me. Not even my own family.
Brief story of your domestic violence experience.
My domestic violence story began in 2017. Instead of seeing myself as a victim for a long time I was manipulated into feeling compassion for my abuser and to set myself far aside. In doing this I experienced many situations which were tragic but have led to me being stronger mentally, emotionally and also as a mother. I experienced sexual abuse as a child and it happened in this relationship too. A part of me was stunned and silenced as a result of PTSD and I had a hard time coming forward with the truth even just with myself. After experiencing symptoms from the multiple forms of calculated abuse I was assigned a team to help me recognize my reality and learn new skills to keep me thriving and most importantly safe.
Did you get any help from someone or any organizations?
I was isolated as a tactic so when I was assigned a therapist I was extremely grateful. She taught me how to slow my thinking down and recognize the signs and triggers of my symptoms that were not a direct result of something going in with my own self but as a result of my environment and abusive relationship. She was the first friend I’d had in years.
What did you think about this project and why did you want to be involved in Underwater Healer About Face?
I wanted to be involved in Underwater Healer About Face because I often recieve Erena’s newsletters and truly I just wanted to share my story with her because she has helped me feel empowered and safe. Ive always been drawn to the water and all the informed secrets and healing powers it has are far to extraordinary to ignore. It was the closing of one door and opening of another for me to physically experience sharing my story.
How were you feeling before the photo shoot? How was the experience with an underwater portrait session?
Before the shoot i was feeling very excited and also like I was in for a little challenge but mostly that I was going to have fun finally after such a long dreadful time. The whole experience was so exhilarating and yet it was such a serene feeling.
How was your mood after you finished?
My mood was different from anything I’ve ever felt because I’d never shared my story with anyone before. It felt like I had shed layers of old skin.
What does WATER mean to you? Do you think this experience could help overcome your trauma? Would you go back to the water again?
I will always find my way back to the water. It is so healing even a simple morning shower cleanses so much more than the outer body. It restores our energetic and spiritual self as well. Water is the source of life on this planet and has the power to do so much more than many of us realize in this day and age.
How did you sleep the night of the photo shoot? Compared to the usual days?
I slept like a happy safe baby!
How was Erena working with you?
Erena was so patient with me! And she made sure I was comfortable and secure and safe in the water as well. My body would get very tired to the point all I could do is tread water and she towed me to the shallow end without hesitation. I really appreciated that or I would just be stuck treading water ?
Would you recommend underwater transformation to other survivors or anyone?
Yes a million times yes!!! Because time freezes underwater. Everything else from the surface world does not exist in that timeless space! To be able to capture yourself healing and feeling free from all the pain and chains underwater is something incomparable to any other experience out there.
Anything to add?
My abuser worked diligently to make me believe I was so incapable and unimportant. That I was my own worst enemy. After being underwater with Erena capturing my reflection showing me just how capable I am, no matter how tired or terrible I feel I may be doing. I can see crystal clear just how much I’ve accomplished as well as my daughters being survivors of DV. To come out of this entire experience alive, with closure and peace was the best way for us to start our next chapter. Fresh & strong!
This truly is my most honest reflection on this entire experience as a whole from start to finish. I am forever grateful for Erena’s kind heart and dedication to the survivors and warriors of our world.
This was an experience I will never ever forget and I cherish meeting Erena, her art, skill and passion.
Thank you so much Erena. So so much.
Hailey have completed all of my requirements and been accepted as a National Science Foundation Scholar. Her daughter is finishing with student of the month regardless of severe anxiety + depression and information processing disorder. They are strong survivors and moving forward with their lives.
If you are or know of anyone suffering from domestic violence, please contact https://www.thehotline.org/
1 800 787 3224