More About Mariska

Founder & President, Joyful Heart Foundation

As an actress, activist and advocate, Mariska Hargitay has dedicated her time, talent and resources to be an inspiration and force for change. Putting her passion for healing, education and community involvement to use, Ms. Hargitay works to help not only survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse but other causes she is passionate about.

Through her role as Detective Olivia Benson on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit , Ms. Hargitay was awakened to the weight that survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse carry—the weight of shame, pain, fear, darkness, judgment and isolation—and inspired by their courage.  

Ms. Hargitay has been a part of multiple education and awareness campaigns around these issues for Joyful Heart and other organizations. She has made public service announcements to end the rape kit backlog in the United States, pass critical legislation to bring healing and justice to survivors, prevent child abuse and neglect and engage men to end violence and abuse. She has also filmed PSAs with NBC's "The More You Know" campaigns and Got Milk and has lent her time and voice to other victim assistance organizations in hopes of raising awareness and much needed financial support for their programs. Her dedication to providing assistance to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse survivors speaks to her depth of character and generosity of spirit. Committed to ending violence and abuse and caring for those who have survived it, Ms. Hargitay spends as much time off screen dealing with these crimes as she does while busting perps through her role as Detective Olivia Benson.

In 2004, Ms. Hargitay took her commitment to a higher and more personal level by founding the Joyful Heart Foundation. The Foundation's mission is to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever.

Ms. Hargitay won the 2006 Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama for her role as Olivia Benson, the ambitious and emotionally driven detective on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The role earned her an additional seven Emmy nominations, a 2004 Golden Globe Award, five SAG Award nominations and a Gracie Allen Award for American Women in Radio and Television. Ms. Hargitay has also been honored with The Good Sister Award for Advocacy at the Children's Advocacy Center of Manhattan's “100 Women Against Child Abuse" Gala Benefit in 2005, the Empowerment Award at Peace Over Violence 38th Annual Humanitarian Awards, the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault Special Ally Award and a 2012 Muse Award from New York Women in Film and Television. 

Ms. Hargitay is married to her husband, actor, writer and advocate Peter Hermann. Peter is a graduate of Yale University and was a charter member of the Teach For America Teaching Corps. He’s appeared in a recurring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, co-starred in United 93 and most recently performed on Broadway in the Tony-Award winning play, War Horse. The couple also have three children: August, Amaya and Andrew. 

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