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According to the Joyful Heart Foundation website, when Mariska Hargitay started playing Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the content of the scripts and the work done to prepare for the role opened her eyes to the epidemics of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. She learned that:

  • “One in three women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
  • Every two minutes in the United States, someone is sexually assaulted
  • More than five children die every day in this country as a result of child abuse and neglect, and up to 15 million children witness domestic violence in their homes each year.”

But she finally found her calling through her fan mail where they opened up to her with their stories of abuse, many for the first time!

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This opened Hargitay’s eyes to the fact that these individuals with a painful past were desperate to be heard, for healing and wanted to be believed and supported. So she went on to create the Joyful Heart Foundation right here in Hawaii nei, in Kona, in 2004, to help the victims of sexual assault heal and reclaim joy in their lives.

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“Today, Joyful Heart is a national organization with hubs of service in New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu. The vision of the Joyful Heart Foundation is a world free of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.” (joyfulheartfoundation.org)

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Since 2004, the Joyful Heart Foundation has raised over $28 million to support  programs and have directly helped more than 15,000 individuals through their healing programs. And they’ve influenced policy changes from New York to California. For more information, click here.

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