‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Mariska Hargitay Says the Show Helps People ‘Heal’

by Lauren Boisvert

Mariska Hargitay is a powerhouse, a force to be reckoned with, and a loyal friend, according to stars like Brooke Shields and former co-star Chris Meloni. She’s also an activist, and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation. The foundation aims to “transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever,” according to the foundation’s website.

Hargitay started the foundation because of the traumatic contents of the “SVU” scripts and what she had to research to prepare for her role. According to a new interview with Glamour, when “SVU” first started airing, Mariska Hargitay received hundreds of letters from victims. They appreciated her portrayal of Olivia Benson and the work she was doing. They also stated that they “felt shame” or “alone.”

Hargitay said that these survivors took on “all these things that didn’t belong with them, that belonged with the perpetrator.”

She made it her mission to help people like that, through her foundation, and through the show. “SVU” presents a sort of alternate timeline; there, these cases are not only seen and heard, but the perpetrators are brought to justice. That doesn’t often happen in the real world, unfortunately. That’s why we need foundations like Joyful Heart. They bring awareness and healing to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.

Mariska Hargitay says that the show also promotes healing for those who have been through awful circumstances. When asked if she felt like she got her due, Hargitay replied that she had; according to Hargitay, “I’m so privileged that I get to do it, that I get to find my purpose, that I get to be of service, that I get to help people heal. That’s what I know. That’s important to me.”

Mariska Hargitay Says Benson and Stabler Are ‘Parents’ of the Show

In the same interview with Glamour, Mariska Hargitay described Benson and Stabler’s dynamic as “mother and father” on “Law & Order: SVU.”

According to Hargitay, Benson is the “mom who is all heart and emotion and a lioness who’ll defend you.” She described Stabler as “the angry father that will fix it at all costs.”

That certainly rings true to their characters. Benson is known for getting emotionally attached to her cases. Stabler definitely has a bit of an anger problem, but he channels it into solving crimes. Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni starred together on “SVU” for 12 seasons, before Meloni left. Now, on “SVU” and “Organized Crime” crossovers, Benson and Stabler share more of their infamous romantic will-they-won’t-they moments. Even after all this time, they’re still mom and da; solving crimes, helping people survive, and doing it all with an air of romantic tension so thick you couldn’t cut it with a chainsaw.