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When actress Mariska Hargitay started playing a sexual-assault detective on TV in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in 1999, she began to get mail full of stories of personal abuse.

“She trained for the role at a rape-crisis shelter,” explains Kata Issari, 54, executive director of the Hawaii region of Joyful Heart Foundation, “and she was shocked at the statistics of sexual abuse and wondered why everyone wasn’t talking about these issues.”

Hargitay founded Joyful Heart in 2004 in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island, a place she would visit for its spiritual healing power. “In fact, some of our initial JHF retreats replicated her experiences in Kailua-Kona – such as yoga, art therapy or time in nature,” according to Issari, herself a witness to domestic violence when she was a child.

Issari has worked in the field of sexual and domestic assault for nearly 35 years. When JHF relocated its Kona office to Honolulu in 2011, Issari became its first executive director, with a staff of five. The nonprofit also has a national presence in New York and L.A.

“What drew me to Joyful Heart was its inclusivity in addressing issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. Many organizations will only work on one of those issues, yet the reality for victims is that they’re not just survivors of only one of those crimes.

“The other thing that excites me about Joyful Heart is it has a very holistic approach, paying attention to mind, body and spirit.”

Although the organization leaves most direct services to partner agencies, it does provide healing workshops to survivors, as well as to other healers who also suffer a form of trauma as part of their work supporting victims of violence.

JHF also engages in educational programs with nonprofit and government partners to end domestic abuse and sexual assault in the state, and it advocates with its partners to seek justice for survivors – specifically to end the backlog of untested rape kits.

And, Issari points out, JHF does not apply for government grants, but raises money only from private sources, so as not to compete for public funding with other nonprofits.
joyfulheartfoundation.org

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Mariska tossed the coin at the Giants vs Cowboys game this evening for NO MORE day to support Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Unfortunately the coin toss didn’t air on TV. So far, there is only one picture. Hopefully more will surface soon!


No More Day at the Giants Game
October 25, 2015




On Sunday, October 25th, usa network is teaming with Mariska Hargitay, the Joyful Heart Foundation, the NO MORE campaign, and NFL players to host a special “Law & Order: SVU” NO MORE Excuses Marathon in commemoration of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The marathon will feature 14 powerful episodes wrapped with newly filmed interstitials, PSAs and digital content throughout the day. The new interstitial campaign features Hargitay and NFL stars — including William Gay (Pittsburgh Steelers), Andrew Hawkins (Cleveland Browns), Mark Herzlich (New York Giants), Ben Watson (New Orleans Saints) and Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys) – encouraging everyone to “get off the sidelines” to help stop domestic violence and sexual assault.

“I’m proud and heartened to stand with USA and NFL players to say NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Mariska Hargitay. “Being part of NO MORE from the beginning has been a great privilege. We must confront the myths and excuses surrounding-and perpetuating-domestic violence and sexual assault. Together, we can bring an end to this violence.”

During each episode of the 14-hour SVU marathon, viewers will be encouraged to take a pledge to get involved at NOMORE.org and seek additional information from national hotlines and other resources. Throughout the day, USA, Joyful Heart, and NO MORE also will use social media platforms to encourage conversation and inspire greater action to stop and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. People can follow and join the dialogue by using #NOMOREexcuses.

NO MORE is a public awareness campaign designed to engage bystanders around ending domestic violence and sexual assault. In addition to the new content broadcast during Sunday’s marathon, PSAs created by Y&R, produced by Joyful Heart, directed by Hargitay and featuring celebrities, public figures and athletes will air. These PSAs that highlight the myths and excuses that create misplaced blame on survivors and allow perpetrators to escape accountability will also air. The goal of all the NO MORE PSAs is to help normalize the conversation and break the social stigma surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault. By increasing visibility and fostering more dialogue, NO MORE seeks to change social norms, improve public policies, and generate more resources to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault.

USA has been a leading champion of the effort to stop domestic violence and sexual assault, teaming with Joyful Heart and NO MORE over a year ago to create the “NO MORE Excuses” SVU marathons. Throughout six marathons held since April 2014, more than 25 million viewers have tuned in and gotten critical information and support. The National Sexual Assault Hotline operated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the National Domestic Violence Hotline and other NO MORE coalition partners have seen tremendous increases in calls and website traffic during each marathon. For example, during the April 2014 marathon, the National Sexual Assault Hotline saw a 106% increase in the number of people helped; the National Domestic Violence Hotline had a 21% increase in calls; 1in6.org experienced a 116.2% increase in web traffic and the NO MORE website received a 2,463% surge in traffic. In addition, the hashtags #sayNOMORE, #NOMORE and #NOMOREexcuses trended nationally during the marathon.

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Actress Mariska Hargitay speaks during a press conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in New York. During the event, Hargitay, along with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced almost $80 million in grants to help eliminate a vast nationwide backlog of rape kits.


Rape Kit Backlog Press Conference
September 10, 2015




There have been fashion shows at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Short Hills Mall, private fundraising events in people’s homes and yearly women’s luncheons where guest speakers discuss relevant issues. In fact, Heller was thrilled to announce Rachel’s major 2015 fundraiser, to be held on October 18 of this year. In an event cosponsored by, and held at, Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael in Springfield, the Rachel Coalition will be hosting “A Conversation with Mariska Hargitay.” Best known for her portrayal of Detective Olivia Benson on NBC’s hit series “Law and Order: SVU,” Hargitay has merged her “reel” and “real” lives in her position as Founder and President of the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization dedicated to eradicating domestic violence and sexual assault.

“A revolution always begins from within. This one begins when you decide how you will hold the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse within you, and how you live out that decision,” said Hargitay on the Foundation’s website.

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I uploaded 60 pictures of Mariska at the Joyful Heart Foundation Gala. Keep checking back because I’ll be adding more. I don’t have to tell you how stunning she looks tonight! 🙂


Joyful Heart Foundation Gala
May 6, 2015




Detroit has an astonishing idea for how to solve the crisis of its backlog of untested rape kits: raising $10 million through charitable donations. This first-of-its-kind strategy is led by tenacious Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, herself a survivor of rape, and it is an historic effort to motivate individuals to fill a yawning public sector gap.

The campaign struck a chord: It raised more than $900,000 from all 50 states and a number of foreign countries in its first month. That total continues to climb. Sheryl Sandberg’s foundation sent an unsolicited $25,000 check. Actress Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: SVU backed the project through her Joyful Heart Foundation, and stood beside Worthy in recent press conferences. Comerica Bank, DTE Energy and the MGM Grand Casino Hotel signed on. Even small local groups like book groups and a canasta club are taking action.

Worthy also says that her office is in the “very, very beginning stages” of partnering with UPS. Detroit will be a pilot site for a program that will track rape kits the way that the big shipping company tracks packages, following them from the hospital to the lab to prosecution. “It’s in the initial stages, but we hope it will be a success nationally,” Worthy says.

Read the full article here




As tough-talking detective Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: SVU,” Mariska Hargitay is rarely at a loss for words.

But in a new series of public service announcements about domestic violence and sexual assault, the 50-year-old Emmy winner shows just how difficult it is for her and other celebrities to talk about the subject.

“There was no one who didn’t have a particular line resonate so deeply that they had to take a moment to gather themselves,” Hargitay, who directed the spots and whose Joyful Heart Foundation produced them, told ABC News.

The new series of PSAs, titled “Speechless,” which start rolling out today, are comprised of just those moments. The new spots, which are visually spare and use only ambient sound, weren’t planned. They were the unexpected –and unscripted — byproduct of emotions that ran high while shooting previously aired spots in the “No More” campaign to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

In the previous PSAs, which began airing in September, celebrities, as well as current and former NFL players, are seen speaking out against domestic violence. The NFL rolled out the spots during game times amid a number of high-profile cases involving NFL players and domestic violence.

But Hargitay said the celebrity campaign had been in the works since she founded Joyful Heart for sexual assault survivors 10 years ago. It was after joining forces with No More that the campaign got momentum.

Once the celebrity PSAs began airing during NFL broadcasts, Hargitay said, “Players started reaching out, wanting to be involved, wanting to speak out. Some came because they had personally experienced violence and abuse, others because they felt moved to take a lead in bringing change. But their lives — and their souls — had been touched by these issues.”

The first “Speechless” spots featuring current and former NFL players and directed by Hargitay, along with Blair Underwood and Tate Donovan, aired during NFL broadcasts on Thanksgiving Day for more than 92 million viewers.

Next up, the three directors as well as Hargitay’s “SVU” co-stars Chris Meloni and Ice T, Andre Braugher, Hilary Swank, Tim Gunn, Mary J. Blige, Debra Messing and more will appear.

Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro is among them.

He told ABC News that he got involved because the issue of domestic violence is “pretty close to my heart.” When he was 15, Navarro’s mother Connie Navarro was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. John Riccardi spent nearly a decade on the run, until he was finally captured in 1991 after the case was featured on “America’s Most Wanted.” He’s currently serving life without parole in a California prison.

“It was a horrific relationship that ended in tragedy,” Navarro said, adding, “it affected my life greatly.”

“I have first-hand knowledge how these types of situations can escalate. The fact is the realm of the impossible is in fact possible, which is why it’s important for me to get the word out now,” said the 47-year-old rocker, speaking on behalf of Viacommunity, Viacom’s social impact umbrella.

“We are trying to raise awareness so people can get help or even assess their situation,” he said. “The denial is so thick that sometimes it’s hard to get a grasp of one’s self within a conflict. But if someone can see themselves in the campaign, maybe they can reach out for help.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in three women and one in four men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Though Navarro and his fellow celebrities are showing just how hard it is to talk about domestic violence in the new spots, their goal is really to get the conversation started.

“The fact is we are having a conversation,” Navarro said. “I wouldn’t be talking to you about this experience in my life if not for this.”

Added Hargitay, “Most simply put, we want these spots to bring these issues out of the darkness and into the light.”

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If you want to watch the video from Mariska’s speech you can do so below.






Manhattan DA’s office held a press conference today. They’ve announced funding for $35M to be used to test rape kits nationwide. I’ll be adding more pictures as I get them so keep checking back.


Manhattan DA Press Conference
November 12, 2014





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