Media Archive by Year: 2017

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Mariska Hargitay and ‘I Am Evidence’ Want to Eliminate the Rape Kit Backlog
November 29, 2017 • IndieWire
Jean Bentley

When Mariska Hargitay landed the role of Detective Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” she had no idea that it would turn her into an activist for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. But in 2017, almost two decades after the long-running show began, she’s helped spearhead a mission to eliminate the rape-kit backlog in the U.S. — and has produced a documentary with HBO and her former SVU coworker Trish Adlesic called “I Am Evidence” that helps bring the issue to light.

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Mariska Hargitay’s Doc ‘I Am Evidence’ Is An Eye-Opening Look At The Rape Kit Backlog
May 2, 2017 • The Huffington Post
Stephanie Marcus

If you were to watch almost any episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” it’s likely that some form of sexual assault would take place, the victim would be given a rape kit at the hospital, and the dedicated detectives investigating would send the kit off to be tested for DNA evidence.

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Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation and the Power of Vulnerability
May 23, 2017 • StyleCaster
Christina Grasso

Mariska Hargitay may be best known for her role as Olivia Benson, the badass lieutenant on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” now going into its 19th season. But what many people may not know is that her work on the hit show inspired her to use her platform for tremendous good by helping survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. In other words, her level of badassery transcends that of her character’s on the show that I, like so many others, grew up watching.

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Mass. House approves proposal to create tracking system for untested rape kits and evaluate backlog
November 15, 2017 • MassLive
Scott J. Croteau

The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a proposal to overhaul the state's policy for tracking and testing rape kits.

The proposal was adopted as an amendment to the criminal justice reform bill passed Tuesday night. House Minority Leader Bradley Jones Jr. proposed the amendment, which calls for the creation of a rape kit tracking system with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

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Mayor declares Hawaii Says NO MORE Week in Honolulu
March 6, 2017 • Khon2
Web Staff

This week is Hawaii Says NO MORE Week in the City and County of Honolulu.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell made an official proclamation Monday in partnership with the Joyful Heart Foundation in a stand against domestic violence and sex assault.

Two years ago, the foundation joined 14 of Hawaii’s leading government and non-profit organizations to launch Hawaii Says NO MORE, a collaboration of individuals, programs, and organizations around Hawaii who are taking action to increase awareness and visibility to prevent and end domestic violence and sexual assault.

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Missouri rape kit audit set to be done in early 2018
November 27, 2017 • Associated Press
Associated Press

The Missouri Attorney General's Office says it hopes to determine by early next year how many untested rape kits are on shelves in Missouri, a first step in an effort to improve the state's response to sexual assault.

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Private film screening highlights problem of unexamined sexual assault kits
October 24, 2017 • WIBW News
WIBW News Now

Following the I AM EVIDENCE screening, Wayne County, Michigan Prosecutor Kym Worthy facilitated a discussion about the value of testing sexual assault kit evidence and establishing a victim-centered approach to sexual assault response.

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Schimel: Flood Of Submissions Slowing Sexual Asssault Kit Testing
December 6, 2017 • Associated Press
Associated Press

Attorney General Brad Schimel says a glut of submissions nationwide is slowing progress on analyzing thousands of untested sexual assault kits on Wisconsin police department shelves.

The Joyful Heart Foundation has been pushing states to analyze untested kits in hopes of developing DNA profiles for serial offenders.

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Seven Changes That Would Empower the #MeToo Movement
November 25, 2017 • Newsweek
Marci A. Hamilton

The social media campaign #MeToo has been an extraordinary space where victims of sex harassment and assault have found their voices.

These victims are inspiring and you just want to believe that something good must come out of all of the pain that they have had to endure so long in silence.

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SVU's Mariska Hargitay Doesn't Know Where She Ends & Olivia Benson Begins—And Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way
September 27, 2017 • E! News
Chris Harnick

Mariska Hargitay says the character has taught her so much, changing her life and serving as the impetus for the Joyful Heart Foundation.

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Taylor Swift Is Already Giving Back To Sexual Assault Survivors Following Groping Case
August 17, 2017 • Refinery29
Meghan Demaria

Taylor Swift won her groping lawsuit against radio DJ David Mueller on Monday. After her victory in court, Swift said she'd donate to organizations that help survivors — and she's already followed through on that promise.

Maile M. Zambuto, CEO of Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation, told The Huffington Post on Wednesday that Swift contacted the organization about making a contribution.

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This Is How Taylor Swift’s Donations Will Impact Sexual Assault Survivors
August 16, 2017 • HuffPost
Alanna Vagianos

After a jury ruled in favor or Taylor Swift in her countersuit against former DJ David Mueller on Monday night, the pop star announced that she would be donating money to organizations to help survivors of sexual assault.

Maile M. Zambuto, CEO of the Joyful Heart Foundation, told HuffPost that her organization will be one of several that benefit from Swift’s donations. 

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Untested rape exam kits number thousands in Indiana
September 20, 2017 • The Indiana Lawyer
Dave Stafford

Like many states, Indiana has a problem — mountains of untested rape exam kits in local law enforcement agencies that contain DNA evidence potentially identifying sex offenders. Indiana’s backlog of untested kits is certainly in the thousands. Victim advocates say the question is, how many thousands?

No one can accurately answer that question — at least not until Dec. 1. That’s when a report to lawmakers is due from Indiana State Police, detailing the number of untested kits warehoused by law enforcement agencies around the state.

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Why 5,396 sexual assault kits went untested in Indiana
December 1, 2017 • The Indianapolis Star
Marisa Kwiatkowski

There are 5,396 sexual assault kits held in police custody that have not been tested, according to the results of an Indiana State Police audit.

State senators had adopted a resolution in April that urged State Police to count the number of untested sexual assault kits throughout the state and determine reasons why they were not tested.

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Why Mariska Hargitay Considers Law & Order: SVU Her "Calling"
May 23, 2017 • E! Online
Chris Harnick

For Mariska Hargitay, playing Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU is more than just a job, it's a calling.

"Every day I get on my knees and thank God for this opportunity. It's not lost on me that God gave me this opportunity, this platform to speak about these issues. I really feel like it was a calling, it's not an accident I came on this show," Hargitay told E! News at The Joyful Heart Foundation gala. "I always wanted to be on service, but it's hard. You say, ‘What do I do? How do I be of service?' and this was an opportunity."

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