Law & Order: SVU‘s Mariska Hargitay asked fans on Instagram to participate in “Giving Tuesday” to benefit sexual assault survivors. The actress tagged her organization Joyful Heart Foundation, prompting followers to support their mission.
“At Joyful Heart, we are leading a nationwide effort to enact comprehensive rape kit reform laws across the country,” wrote Hargitay. “Because behind every kit is a person—a sexual assault survivor—who matters. This [Giving Tuesday], please join us in our work to enact real and lasting change that ensures a pathway to justice for survivors.”
The Joyful Heart Foundation was started by Hargitay in 2005. According to the foundation website, Hargitay drew inspiration from her role of Olivia Benson on SVU. After playing Benson, she began to receive letters from her fans detailing their experiences.
As a result, Hargitay “wanted to answer—really answer—those letters, to address the suffering they described, and honor acts of courage they represented.” The foundation does this through a variety of methods. These include retreats for survivors and vicarious trauma therapy for professionals.
As referenced in her post, another goal of the JHF is to end the backlogging of rape kits. Since 2010, it has been their goal to pass rape kit reform legislation in all 50 states. This is in response to the JHF’s discovery of over 225,000 untested kits.
Olivia Benson Was an Eye-Opening Role
In an interview with TV Insider in 2018, Hargitay was asked about the difficulty of being on a such a dark show. The actress said she “had to ground [herself] and be brave.”
“The show is about the worst things people do to each other in the darkest part of humanity, which means many stories are difficult,” Hargitay explained “But when a child suffers — those hit us hardest.”
When asked about Law & Order: SVU’s evolution, the actress noted a change in mentality. They went, “from ‘Let’s shine a light on these issues’ to ‘Time’s up, let’s make changes and stop these issues.'”
Benson Is a Champion of Healing
Of Olivia Benson, Hargitay describes her SVU character as “a champion of healing — the mother figure we all want.” The goal first and foremost as Benson is to be an influence of positivity for victims. She believes the longevity of the show is due to the focus on telling “stories that are close to our hearts, our souls and our core.”
Although Hargitay is quick to credit Benson as the healer, her instagram tells a different story. Years of playing such an inspiring role seemed to have left their mark on the actress. Aside from her post about “Giving Tuesday,” she also posts messages of encouragement for followers.
Whether she’s acting as Benson or herself, Hargitay’s focus on healing radiates through everything she does.