For years, Mariska Hargitay has been valiantly fighting sexual harassment, assault, and rapes on Law & Order SVU as Lt. Olivia Benson. But her passion for advocating for victims and survivors has never just been limited to the screen. For nearly 20 years, Hargitay has spoken about the very issues she's confronted with onscreen, including the troubling inaccessibility of rape kits in the United States and the stigmas survivors who come forward have to face every single day. She even has a foundation that aims to help survivors who share their stories.
Hargitay's fight (both on TV and IRL) has never been more important than now, as increasingly more women in Hollywood — the show is actually going to cover Harvey Weinstein next year — are coming forward with their own experiences. Following this week's poignant episode about the lasting impact sexual assault can have on a survivor, Hargitay spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about how SVU has played a role in the spreading the #MeToo movement.
"What I think SVU has done so beautifully for years is to bring things that have been traditionally swept under the carpet to light," she said. "What's very exciting about this time is that not only is it coming out into the light but it's getting a very big spotlight shined on something that's been going on for years and demands attention."
She's right, too; this issue can no longer be ignored. A recent survey found that 60% of women in the U.S. report they've been sexually harassed at least once throughout their lifetimes at work, while out in public, and even at home. Thankfully, Hargitay believes the tide is changing.
"I'm very excited to see the change in our culture. It's been unfortunate how this has come to pass, but I've been talking about the statistics of sexual assault and domestic violence for so long and the statistics just don't lie. I think with shining a light on this, now is the time to change it."
We couldn't agree more.