Mariska Hargitay On Olivia Benson: Actress Reveals How Role Made Her Want To Help Others

Mariska Hargitay is speaking out on Olivia Benson and the impact the role has had on her life in a new interview with People Magazine. Hargitay has portrayed Benson for the last 16 years on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and the role has changed her life.

Just five years after the actress took on the role and the series, she started the Joyful Heart Foundation. The national organization works with survivors of violent crimes, and the organization has now joined forces with the No More campaign. This new campaign is trying to raise awareness about domestic violence after several high profile cases made headlines in the media over the last year.

Hargitay shared about her work with Joyful Heart Foundation with People Magazine. Playing the role of Olivia Benson made her want to help survivors of abuse and violent crimes.

“Being around that subject matter every day seeps into my consciousness. When I first did research for my role on SVU, I couldn’t believe the statistics of abuse – and the letters that came in from viewers disclosing their own stories. I was proud to be on a show that was going into new territory, but I knew I wanted to do more to help survivors heal and reclaim their lives. The experience of sexual assault and domestic violence can be extremely isolating. So simply listen without judgment. I always have to remind myself that I don’t have to be an expert. I just have to care.”

This is not the first time her organization and the work that it does has made headlines. According to a previous Inquisitr report, the Joyful Heart Foundation worked with the Wayne County prosecutor to put forth new legislation that will push for more testing of rape kits.

More than 11,000 kits that were never tested for DNA were recovered from a Detroit storage facility. If those kits would have been tested, that DNA would have been on file to help with future cases. This could help identity rapists if they commit another rape.

As for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NBC has renewed the series for a 17th season. Olivia Benson has faced a lot in recent seasons, but the character has changed this season. She has more than herself to think about.

Hargitay revealed how Olivia Benson has changed in a recent interview with the Huffington Post.

“The baby has framed everything Olivia is going through in a different way. Here was a woman that was completely focused on work, and alone. And now truly has something to live for — literally has something to live for, she has to stay alive for this child. Her priorities have changed. I even noticed yesterday, I was doing a scene and I was running into a potential set-up and I noticed myself thinking differently. As Olivia, normally I’d go in there to get them, and this time I was like, ‘Be careful.’ I noticed I talk to myself differently after having gone through what I went through with William Lewis, but also being a mother makes you act and think differently. That’s been fun, my inner life as a character is very different.”

Fans have taken to their social media accounts to praise Mariska Hargitay for her words and the work her organization does.

Why.@Mariska is the FIERCEST advocate for justice:

— Erica Elizabeth (@Ericaaa625) March 6, 2015

This week’s issue of People Magazine is on newsstands now. What do you think of Mariska Hargitay’s work with the Joyful Heart Foundation?

[Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]