Nadia – She’s not a “survivor”…she’s a person.

our human collective

I attended an event for National Overdose Awareness Day. I shot an image that moved me deeply. I reached out so I could share the photo. Andi had lost her son to the scourge of opioids. She was there with her daughter Donna and Donna’s wife Nadia. As it often does for me…we became friends. Andi shared her grief with me. Nadia and Donna shared with me as well. What came through wholeheartedly was the love and support of this small tight knit family.

Nadia was orphaned. Nadia was in foster care. Nadia was sex trafficked from the age of 11 through 28. My head shakes as I write this. How is this possible? She struggles with tremendous PTSD. Although she reaches out for help it’s not so easy to find. Deep trauma is complicated. But let me be clear, this is a post of healing. This is a creative outlet to show her beauty and strength. Her post is raw. She reminds me, “I am not a f**king survivor”. Nadia is a person with a history. She is not her history.  She is finding ways to heal through her music, her martial arts practice, her job and her love, Donna. She has a long way to go but she is a strong woman who is struggling to find her way back to grace. As I see it, this is the essence of each child born. This is the love and innocence of a child that warps through no fault of their own. Our journey is to find our way back home to that grace.


In Nadia’s words:

I find solace in my wife after countless heart wrenching flashbacks and regressions. My wife and I have to be very creative in finding ways to combat my body memories. We create new ones. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes depending on the flashback there’s no way of redirecting. I must go through the mental pain, which then triggers my P.T.S.D (POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER). This trigger manifests in my body and I vomit and have diarrhea simultaneously, which then lands me in the emergency room for dehydration.

I am a specialist Phlebotomist. I practiced for over 5 years and I loved every minute of my job. For me, it was more than drawing blood. I took the time to listen. It was important for me to find out why my patients were scared of needles. I loved helping to make my patient’s experience as painless as possible. Gratefully, I just landed a new position doing this job that I love.


I am a singer songwriter. I sing for my life and dance hard when no one is watching. I love to make up melodies and play with words. I sing anything until it becomes something significant to me. I close my eyes and imagine myself on stage. When someone asks me to sing for them I become sick to my stomach from nerves. Even with that, I sing. It’s all that my soul knows. Singing is the one constant throughout my life and my core is rooted in my own songs.

My wife and I take each day as if comes. Some days are better than others. My laughter is a lot louder than my tears since I’ve met my wife.

I am freer from my story and the love I feel is far more than I ever dreamed possible.

 I am grateful to be ALIVE and with that I have hope, optimism, love, music, opportunities, laughter and peace of mind…sometimes.



  1. Lyndon

    She has charisma, character, guts and an openness that is both refreshing and honest.
    Besides that she is naturally photogenic and has a lovely smile.

  2. Katrina

    PTSD, so hard to live with. I’m so glad you have found love Nadia, someone who sees you, the beautiful creative woman. Join me in “Dancing in the dark”!

  3. Sandra Muvdi

    I love the meaningful photos with the Peace shirt and Believe art. The photo with her own embrace with the faded image on the left is powerful.  We each have our own unique journey…  It is interesting to learn about each of us born equal and how our paths diverge.

  4. Linda

    My heart and mind are awakened and touched by Nadia ‘s story. I appreciate her  statement that she is not a victim but a human being. Inspiring. Bravo to Nadia and to you Lisa for bringing this story. I wish the best for Nadia in her pursuit of her artistry. Also Lisa I am thrilled by your writing and what you choose to bring. 

  5. Dena

    Shining a light on beautiful souls is what you do best Lisa!

  6. Greg

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story, it’s hard for most people to understand what Nadia, Donna and Andi are dealing with. Family is everything and I know that together they will survive and be stronger. Love is a universal and a healer. Much love to all three strong woman, I am honored to have crossed paths with this amazing family!! Love you all, Greg


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is a Portrait Photographer who specializes in people, floral art and capturing our collective humanity