'Dear Brock Turner' Photo Series Documents All The Lies No One Should Ever Tell Rape Survivors

"Why is it so difficult to respect another person’s body and life?"

Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions
Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions

The Stanford rape case made national news, but it is by no means an anomaly. Rape and sexual assault are disturbingly prevalent issues on college campuses. Brock Allen Turner, the student who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and later tried to flee the scene, is not one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch. Rape culture in the U.S. is real, and carries serious repercussions — more often for the survivor than the perpetrator. 

As someone who survived sexual assault herself, student Yana Mazurkevich was as affected by the Stanford rape case as everyone. 

"I believe we all have the decency to look at this issue and agree that it is beyond wrong, disgusting, and, honestly to me, confusing," she told A Plus in an email. "Why is it so difficult to keep your hands to yourself? Why is it so difficult to respect another person's body and life? Why am I made to feel like I need to dress a certain way on the night that I want to go out and be myself? This societal reality that exists now is frightening. The fact that I even consider carrying a pocket knife with me around campus because I am constantly seeing rape case after rape case on the news is shocking to me. I shouldn't be experiencing my college experience like this."

So Mazurkevich got to work, creating a moving photo series called "Dear Brock Turner," that decries the culture inherent in the statements Turner and his father made in court.

Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions
Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions

An in-house artist at Current Solutions, a platform for spreading awareness about sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and gender-based violence, Mazurkevich photographed women splattered with bright chalk as they stare at the camera, clutching whiteboards reading the very words that blame victims for their attacks.

Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions
Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions

Mazurkevich noted that she was "lucky enough" to find the courage to tell herself that her sexual assault was not her fault. 

"I think many women (and men) sometimes cannot tell themselves [that]. Experiences like that are scarring, and take an enormous amount of time to recover from," she said. "I knew immediately I needed to bring that issue to life visually through photography, and through the healing that sharing on Current Solutions' platform can bring and has already brought to many people who courageously shared their stories."

Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions
Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions

Through the women's piercing glances and the movement and color created by the chalk, Mazurkevich wanted to drive home how abruptly an incident like that can turn someone's life upside down.

"I knew I wanted to incorporate the subject's 'gaze,' sort of like a silent cry for help through the subject's eyes. It confronts the viewer and makes you look beyond the expression and look for a possible frown or furrowing of the eyebrows. But you see absolutely nothing; just pure emptiness and numbness," Mazurkevich said.

Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions
Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions

"I wanted to portray the unexpectedness of something that can occur to you, and just how it can hit you from any possible direction at any given time. The colors make each image look almost like a crime scene; the powder covers almost every inch of the face and body. It makes you dirty. And that is precisely how it feels after a sexual encounter: just dirty."

Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions
Yana Mazurkevich/Current Solutions

Cover image via Yana Mazurkevich / Current Solutions