‘Law & Order: SVU’: What Mariska Hargitay Really Thinks of the Series

Mariska Hargitay is known throughout the world as the crime-fighting detective of the Special Victims Unit. She has graced our screens as Detective Olivia Benson going on 21 seasons, and she has no plans of stopping anytime soon. Hargitay recently sat down with Parade.com about her role as Benson and what she really thinks of the series.

What does Mariska Hargitay think of ‘Law & Order: SVU’?

Mariska Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay as Lieutenant Olivia Benson | Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Hargitay spoke about SVU and what makes it so powerful to viewers at home. It really is a show about healing and getting justice for the victims. She is clearly passionate about her role and what SVU brings to the table.

SVU resonates because it’s a path to healing and a path to survivorship,” she explains. “Each week, Olivia Benson and the team depict an environment of compassion, sympathy and justice, providing hope to those who experience shame and isolation caused by sexual violence. The conversations that the show inspires have brought a greater awareness and understanding of the issues. And every disclosure is a chance to show that a victim is to be believed.”

Her work on the show led her to create her foundation

Hargitay has a way of taking over the screen and captivating audiences. She started to receive fan mail in the form of letters and emails from survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Hargitay’s character sympathizes like no other detective on the show, and she wanted to do something to help the survivors of heinous trauma.

“I am not a therapist and I didn’t know how to respond,” she remembers. “I wanted them to have a safe space.” Hargitay set about starting her foundation, Joyful Heart in 2004. Throughout the years playing Benson and the type of material she was exposed to she saw a desperate need to help these survivors. The letters and emails she received opened her eyes to a need. She founded Joyful Heart Foundation to help victims heal and find a sense of joy again.

Mariska Hargitay is a producer on ‘I Am Evidence’

Her work on Law & Order: SVU helped pave the way for another project that is close to her heart. She is a producer on the documentary I Am Evidence, which is about the many untested rape kits all over the country. The documentary follows the story of four survivors whose rape kits sat on shelves untested for years. The system is inherently broken and the film seeks to change that and open people’s eyes.

The film goes into great detail about the nature of testing these kits and how victims of sexual assault are treated in this country. The moving film has even won awards, including the audience award for Best Documentary Film at the Provincetown and Traverse City Film Festivals.

Hargitay wrote a letter for the documentary’s website explaining her thoughts on the travesty that’s taking place in this country. “The rape kit backlog offers one of the clearest and most shocking demonstrations of how sexual assault victims are regarded in our society,” Hargitay wrote. “Testing rape kits sends a fundamental and crucial message to victims of sexual violence: ‘You matter. What happened to you matters. Your case matters.’”

Mariska Hargitay has taken her role on SVU and elevated it to a higher level. She is advocating for victim’s rights and truly cares about the material of the show and the people watching at home. She uses her celebrity for good and tries to make a difference in the world through her work and advocacy every day.