When Mariska Hargitay began playing Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims, the content of the scripts, as well as the research she did to prepare for the role, opened her eyes to the epidemics of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.
But what really opened her eyes—and ultimately, her heart—were the thousands of letters and emails she received from survivors disclosing their stories of abuse, many for the first time.
Mariska founded the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004 with the intention of helping survivors heal and reclaim their lives.
Eleven years later, Joyful Heart is a national organization with hubs of service in New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu. We are paving the way for integrating holistic approaches in treating trauma; igniting shifts in the way the public views and responds to this violence; and reforming and advancing policies and legislation to ensure justice for survivors, with three program areas: Healing, Education & Advocacy.