Trigger warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assualt.
The Internet shared collective outrage this week as Brock Turner was released from prison early on good behavior after serving just half of his six-month sentence for felony sexual assault. What kind of message does that send about the seriousness of rape?
College junior Yana Mazurkevich found a powerful way to voice her frustration: a chilling photo project that shares the stories of sexual assault survivors. The images capture places on campus where “it happens,” which doubles as the name of the project, and each photo is paired with a survivor’s story. (Mazurkevich used actors in the photos, not the survivors she interviewed.)
She purposely chose a diverse group of models and had them stare directly into the camera. “This happens to real people, people close to you, people who you know,” Mazurkevich told BuzzFeed. “Don’t even try to ignore it because it’s right there in front of you.”
See the full campaign and the survivors’ stories below:
“I blacked out and just remember very short flashing images… I remember him asking me if I was on birth control, but I was too incoherent to talk. I was trying to explain that I wasn’t. We had sex anyway. I didn’t want to and I barely remember it.”​
“I was at a party once, sober, and two of my good female friends pulled me aside, telling me that someone needed help. They pulled me into this room and pinned me against the wall and started kissing me and taking my pants off, but I was able to push them off and leave. The two girls who were my friends claim that they don’t remember the incident since they were drunk.”
“I can’t remember details or the order of things, but she was very, very aggressive. She left bruises all over me, and I was bleeding the next morning. She held me down and forced a lot. I didn’t say no clearly, but I definitely didn’t agree to the aggressive actions she took. Lack of consent is not the presence of a no, it’s also the absence of a yes.”
“He made me feel guilty if I didn’t do what he wanted. I remember on prom night, I was exhausted and just wanted to go home, but he insisted we mess around because that was the whole point of prom night, and that’s what we were supposed to do. I still wonder if he knew just how manipulative he was.”
“When I was in high school, the only place to live for me was my uncles’ place. I thought I could trust them, but there were nights when I would wake up to one of them, the biological one, in my room, or he would sneakily try to touch my junk. I never really resolved it.”
“I lost my virginity at a party when I was in middle school. He gave me a drink and I can’t really remember what happened after that. Just bits and pieces for the most part… but I couldn’t say no or push him off while he made me have sex with him. I woke up next to him and I was really sore but I couldn’t tell anyone what happened.”​
“I was tattooed by a guy and while he was tattooing me, he kept inserting his fingers up my vagina. He said he had to keep his hand there to keep the skin taut for tattooing. The most ironic part is that the tattoo is the symbol for female; I wanted the tattoo as a sign of feminism and got sexually assaulted in the process.”
“We had been drinking and, by the end of the night, I had lost all control. I was falling in and out of consciousness. I remember waking up with him on top of me but I kept passing back out before I could do anything about it. I always thought it was my fault for getting too drunk.”
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.” —Stanford assault survivor to Brock Turner at his sentencing ​