A new photo series is reminding survivors of sexual assault that it is never their fault.
The series titled "Dear Brock Turner" was created by photographer Yana Mazurkevich for the sexual assault awareness media platform Current Solutions. The project features images of six women holding signs that read phrases survivors of sexual assault and rape often hear such as, "You shouldn't have been walking alone," and "You should have expected this to happen."
Each phrase is written from the perspective of a victim -- highlighting how survivors often blame themselves because society too often conditions women to believe they are responsible for their own assault. This sense of guilt and shame forces many survivors to stay silent about their assaults, ultimately choosing not to seek help or justice.
"Victim-blaming isn’t just some side effect of sexual assault. It’s a harmful, painful reality that perpetuates the culture we live in today which has allowed this issue to be so taboo, yet so prevalent," a spokesperson for the Current Solutions team told The Huffington Post. "Sexual assault is already such an under-reported crime, but victim blaming makes it even harder for survivors to come forward."
“Victim-blaming isn’t just some side effect of sexual assault. It’s a harmful, painful reality that perpetuates the culture we live in today.”
The series is a powerful response to the recent Stanford sexual assault case in which former Stanford student Brock Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious woman. Although Turner was convicted on three felony sexual assault charges and was facing up to 14 years in prison, the 22-year-old was sentenced to only six months in county jail with three years probation.
Some pointed to letters from Turner’s family and friends to the judge residing over the case, as the reason for the 21-year-old’s lenient sentence. Many of the letters, including ones from Turner's father's and childhood friend, blamed alcohol and the victim -- not Turner -- for the sexual assault.
Beneath each image is a quote from the powerful letter written by Turner's victims that captured the attention of politicians, news anchors and people around the world for a few weeks ago. The survivor's letter, which was read aloud in court to Turner, is a powerful commentary on sexual assault and rape culture.
Mazurkevich told HuffPost that she was inspired to create the series because she was sexually assaulted during her freshman year of college. "It hit me like a ton of bricks that I was now part of the statistics: I was now the one in four women to get assaulted," she said. "What’s scary is that I personally know friends who have been assaulted, and they know friends who have. That's what is gut-wrenching -- it's so real and no one really realizes."
The images of women holding victim-blaming phrases paired with Turner's victim's heart-wrenching quotes give readers a glimpse at what so many sexual assault survivors go through.
As the Current Solutions spokesperson said: "If we can impact just one person by telling these stories, by putting faces to the statistics, then we will have achieved our mission."
Scroll below to see the full "Dear Brock Turner" photo series.