Underwater Transformation About Face Underwater Transformation About Face

Isami – CSA, Human Trafficking Survivor

«« Please drag the arrows to see before & after underwater transformation »»

My name is Isami and I’m 34 years old. I’m a familial human trafficking survivor.
I was born in Sagamihara, Japan and raised in Fussa-shi, Tokyo (however, I have moved 28 times in my life)

I was Sex trafficked by my mother as a young girl. My innocence was exchanged for free piano lessons for myself and my siblings. I didn’t realize that this was called “familial trafficking” until my late 20s.

It took me a while to understand what had happened to me. Through therapy and support from loved ones, I have been able to begin healing from my past.

Currently, I create content to inform others to keep people safe and support survivors.

What inspired you to be involved in the Underwater Transformation Project?

I often think of my late Great-Aunt Jo, who passed away in 2011. She was someone I admired for her courage and for breaking gender stereotypes of her time. She grew up in the Deep South of North Carolina (before the civil rights movement), yet she refused to hate anyone. Her love for people was something that she was known for. However, if anyone harmed a child, she was the first to stand up to anyone who needed to be confronted (she owned a private daycare for many years).

When Erena reached out to me, I was so mesmerized by her work. Her skill of capturing human expression is a gift like no other. When she reached out for this project, I knew this was something that would change my life for the better.

What were your plans for the photo shoot?

I wanted to face my fears. I am not a skilled swimmer. To be underwater meant I needed to let go of control, focus on myself, and trust that I could ask someone for help.

These are all things I have struggled with. I wanted to overcome my fear of drowning while healing from betrayal trauma

How was the experience with an underwater portrait session?

The best way I can describe the underwater experience is serenity. Gravity feels different underwater. At first, I was anxious due to my lack of swimming capabilities.

Once I could relax, my body began to trust that I was safe.

I couldn’t hear the noise above the surface, and my mind was at peace.

How was your mood after you finished?

I felt empowered! My body discovered another way to trust myself and others.

What does WATER mean to you?

To me, water often symbolizes rebirth. I was recently baptized at my church. In the faith I practice, this represents letting go of things that once held us back and being raised to walk into our greater calling.

I felt that this underwater experience allowed me the clarity to meditate on the good I believe God has in mind for me.

Do you think this experience could help overcome your trauma?

Absolutely! While it takes many steps to work through trauma, I believe this experience was one of those steps.

How did you sleep the night of the photo shoot?

I genuinely don’t remember, so I must have slept well!

How was Erena working with you?

She was very informative. This allowed me to remain calm. I knew that if I struggled with the water, she had my back. I felt very safe with her!

Would you recommend underwater transformation to other survivors or anyone?


What’s your dream?

My dream is to see a world where children are safe, generational trauma ends, no human is exploited, and all humanity is treated with compassion.

My advice for anyone wanting to get involved in human trafficking prevention is to connect with local anti-trafficking teams. Human trafficking happens in EVERY city. While it may look different from location to location, it’s crucial to communicate with experienced abolitionists.

It is also essential to understand what it means to be trauma-informed to protect survivors who do come forward.

Isami is a public speaker and subject matter expert on anti-human trafficking and child safety. Please check out her website.

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