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Caught Caring: Mariska Hargitay and the Joyful Heart Foundation

07/30/2009 at 02:00 PM ET
Celebrity Baby Blog – Caught Caring

When Mariska Hargitay signed on to play Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 1999, little did she know just how much the role would change her life. Not only did it establish the 45-year-old mom-of-one as an Emmy Award-winning actress, it also opened her eyes to what she calls a “silenced epidemic of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse in this country.” Not long after SVU began airing, Mariska found herself inundated with letters from crime victims who shared their stories of abuse — often for the first time.

Moved by what she read, Mariska began studying to become a crisis counselor herself and from that experience the Joyful Heart Foundation was born. Dedicated to educating and empowering survivors of abuse, Joyful Heart hosts week-long retreats for both victims and caregivers where creative healing techniques are learned and applied. The organization also offers free and open monthly events for survivors in their local communities and provides workshops in domestic violence shelters throughout the country. Writes Mariska,

“When people are abused and assaulted, it is like the doors to their souls slam shut. The goal of Joyful Heart is to let the light, and the life, back in — to banish the darkness and let the healing begin.”

The programs offered by Joyful Heart are funded by donations as well as by proceeds from the sale of various items available in the foundation’s Heartshop. For more ideas on how you can help, click here.

Together with husband Peter Hermann, Mariska is mom to 3-year-old August Miklos Friedrich.

Bauer-Griffin

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Showing 14 comments

vicky24c on

I love Mariska and I think that her foundation is AMAZING!Most actress’s act their part and then leave, forgetting the effect there part will have on other people, but not Mariska. I’m sure her parents, are looking down on her and are both extremely proud of her for what she has done for women of abuse. And that is why Mariska is my hero!

melissa on

Oh my he is just about gorgeous!! what a beautiful little boy.. course what would i expect with a momma like her!! i love her on SVU and everything i have read about her is nothing but good!

Dell on

Amazing Foundation. She does Hollywood proud.

gio on

Mariska is a myth for me! I think very highly of her. She is amazing and the JHF is as extraordinary as she is…

Crystal on

I ♥ this pic!!

Ava on

OMG check out his lashes…He is so damn cute

Lisa on

August is by far my favorite celeb babe. He is going to make girls swoon over him.

eva on

She seems like a smart and kind woman,what a wonderful cause to support!

Jane on

She’s one of my favourite actors, and this is one of the reasons why! I love that Mariska is supporting women who have been abused, she’s very much a role model!

Katz on

I wish they had a place like JHF when I was a kid. It would have helped me so much to know that I wasn’t alone. I suppose that’s why I admire MH so much. You can tell she does care about the impact her character and the show have on so many people.

And little August is growing so fast! He will be a heartbreaker when he grows up!

Yudani on

she’s an angel!!

FC on

Her foundation sounds amazing—just like the woman herself. :)

Angie Williams on

I truly admire what she does. It is phenomenal. MH you are truly an angel sent from up above. Just by watching Law and Order SVU, I was inspired to great things. Thank you Det. Oliva Benson. You are an inspiration.

Jadie michelle on

I absolutely love mariska and she is so beautiful for her age. Wish I could spend a day with her I watch the show all day long I am inspired by her and when I grow up I want to be an svu detective and help kids like her ash e is te best role model ever and I really wish I could meet her so she could be my.mentor for just a day. I love mariska hargitay!!!!! With all my heart to the best actress and role model ever!!!!!!

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