Playing Olivia Benson for 18 seasons on NBC’s hit legal drama Law & Order: SVU has forced Mariska Hargitay to deal with some of the darkest, most depraved examples of human behavior. On the show, it’s only stories and acting, but she’s acutely aware that, in the real world, the stories and suffering are all too real. Because of the role, she’s encountered many victims of sexual assault and abuse who have opened up to her, and she’s become an advocate for them. She’s set up the Joyful Heart Foundation, which strives to help heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, and she talked to us about how important the organization’s mission is to her, and why her time on SVU made it necessary to take some kind of positive action. (Click on the media bar below to hear Mariska Hargitay)

Law & Order: SVU airs Thursday nights at 10/9c on NBC.

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Posted by: AC