Mariska Hargitay, the darling of American television drama, has voiced support for downtrodden pop star Kesha, whose battle to be released from her binding contract with her producer was lost on February 19. Hargitay’s words of comfort come amid those of a furor of other celebrities, who have spoken out in solidarity. The singer lost a bid to cut ties with her high-profile producer, Dr. Luke, who she alleges physically, sexually, and psychologically abused her during their professional relationship. Mariska’s coming to the defense of an assault victim has shed light on her lesser-known role as the founder and president of the Joyful Heart Foundation.
Mariska, the 52-year-old Law & Order, S.V.U. star, added her voice to the resounding chorus of high-profile celebrities who have expressed their sympathy for Kesha. Hargitay’s tweet, posted yesterday on February 23, has already acquired a whopping 51,000 likes, showing just how far word can travel from friends in high places.
For victims of abuse, often it is speaking out that is the hardest part. Over the course of the legal proceedings, the “Tik Tok” singer has made shocking allegations against producer Luke Gottwald, including that he drugged, raped, physically abused, and emotionally tormented her for over a decade, reports CBS News.
As Mariska Hargitay voices support for Kesha over her lost legal battle, her words can be seen as a clear demonstration of the screen sweetheart’s genuine dedication to the support and empowerment of victims around the world.
While it does not escape many that Hargitay’s words are not unlike something her SVU character, Olivia Benson, would say as she comforts and coaxes into conversation one of the many special victims on the show, Mariska has a far deeper investment in the broader scope of social and cultural issues at play in the star’s desperate courtroom struggle. Hargitay is the founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation, which aims to support victims of assault and violence. Mariska’s organization “heals, educates and empowers survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse,” a mission statement close to Hargitay herself’s heart.
“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit… opened [Mariska Hargitay’s] eyes to the epidemics of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse,” reads Joyful Heart’s “Our Story” page. “But what really opened Mariska’s eyes—and subsequently, her heart—was the fan mail she received. The letters didn’t say, ‘I love your show. Can you send me an autographed picture?’ They said, ‘I was raped when I was fifteen. I’m forty now and I’ve never told anyone.’ Survivors were disclosing their stories to Hargitay, many for the first time.”
After experiencing her own “heart awakening” while in Hawai’i in 2004, Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation to “help sexual assault survivors heal and reclaim a sense of joy in their lives.” Since that time, Mariska’s foundation has gained almost 50,000 Twitter followers, donated to countless campaigns for greater funding of victim support organizations, and helped to raise awareness of the plight of those victims who lose their battle for justice.
As well as Mariska Hargitay, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Lorde, Snoop Dogg, Demi Lovato, and Girls creator Lena Dunham have voiced their support via Twitter, and Dunham has also penned a lengthy essay titled “Why Kesha’s Case Is About More Than Kesha,” reports Billboard.
Many attribute the success of SVU to Hargitay’s seminal role as Benson, but Mariska and her foundation are also credited with their huge contribution to bringing about the $41 million Rape Kit Reform in America, with funds going towards the worldwide replenishment of the crucial resource in prosecuting perpetrators of sexual abuse.
The fact that Mariska Hargitay voiced support for a victim in strife is perhaps the only thing that could make her any more popular. Mariska’s many fans — almost 800,000 on Twitter — can rest assured that they bet on the right horse: Hargitay has her Joyful Heart in the right place.
[Photo by Marco Garcia/Getty Images]