Mariska Hargitay opens up on her sexual assault case

Famous ‘Law & Order : SUV’ star Mariska Hargitay recalled being raped in a moving personal essay which she graciously shared while celebrating 25 seasons success party of the popular TV show. This triggered a discussion into the long history of powerful women who dealt with their trauma in the bravest way possible and didn’t allow their past to define themselves. 

mariska hargitay net worth

Mariska Hargitay Case

In a powerful essay published by People magazine on Wednesday, Mariska Hargitay, known for her iconic role as Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: SVU,” revealed a traumatic experience of sexual assault in her thirties. Describing the incident as an act of dominance and control rather than a sexual encounter, she disclosed that the perpetrator was a friend. This reiterated the fact that sexual assaulters are mostly people with whom a deep bond is shared. Hence, it leaves a deep aching wound in the heart when they violate our dignity and leave scars for ages. 

Mariska Hargitay recounted going into a state of numbness,, a common response to trauma when there seems to be no escape and the victim is violated beyond the capacity of the mental system. She admitted to dealing with the trauma privately for many years, using her advocacy for sexual violence victims and her work with the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization she founded in 2004, to channel her efforts. The foundation focuses on raising awareness about sexual violence and offering support to survivors.

The actress also shared that she coped by mentally distancing herself from the experience, stating, “I did what I had to do to survive.” Over time, she gained clarity on the incident, understanding the psychology of trauma and emphasizing the importance of acknowledging acquaintance rape, challenging the misconception that rape only occurs in stranger scenarios.

Mariska hargitay - newzertainment

Despite the painful nature of her story, Hargitay asserted that it does not define her and expressed a hope that by sharing her experience, others who have faced sexual violence would feel empowered to speak out. Currently celebrating 25 years portraying Olivia Benson, a character known for seeking justice for sexual assault victims, Hargitay acknowledged the strength she draws from survivors who have watched the show.

In her essay, she paid tribute to these survivors, acknowledging the darkness and cruelty they have experienced and highlighting their resilience in the face of disregard for another human being. Mariska Hargitay expressed gratitude for her current state, some 30 years after the assault, and though still a work in progress, she conveyed a renewed sense of compassion for all who have suffered. 

Mariska Hargitay ‘s speech was a compelling testament to the power and strength that victims can portray if they have the right emotional support, peace of mind and the will to rise beyond their circumstances. She could have let her trauma define her but the adult Hargitay chose to strive for excellence and make a name for herself in one of the busiest industries in the world. She displayed impeccable strength while dealing with the trauma privately and helping others who are in a similar position, now that she has the influence to do so. 

Unfortunately, high profile sexual assault cases have a long history in Hollywood. The ‘Me-too’ movement especially inspired millions of celebrities to gather the courage to narrate their traumatic experiences.  A sense of ‘ease’ crept in when similar people bonded on their shared experiences conveying the idea of ‘You are not alone’. Here is a list of 3 celebrities who opened up on their sexual assault cases:

Other Celebrities

Terry Crews: 

The famous BB 99 actors opened up about his horrifying experience in October 2017. He recalled the incident in a series of tweets when he was inappropriately touched at an industry party by a Hollywood executive. The tweet stated, ‘This whole thing with Harvey Weinstein is giving me PTSD. Why? Because this kind of thing happened to ME.

BB 99 actors
The Independent

My wife [and] I were at a Hollywood function last year [and] a high level Hollywood executive came over [to] me and groped my privates. Jumping back I said What are you doing?!’ My wife saw everything [and] we looked at him like he was crazy. He just grinned like a jerk. I was going to kick his ass right then — but I thought twice about how the whole thing would appear. ‘240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood Honcho’ would be the headline the next day.

Hopefully, me coming forward with my story will deter a predator and encourage someone who feels hopeless. Although Crews ended up filing a case against the alleged predator, it was rejected on the grounds of ‘beyond the statue of limitations’. 


Kesha's mental health
USA Today

The beloved singer of our teenage song ‘Tik tok’ exhibited exemplary degrees of strength when she stood for herself by filing a case against her producer Dr Luke allegedly drugged and raped her. This inspired millions of musicians in the industry to stand up for themselves giving them a glimmer of hope. 

she wrote in the caption of an instagram post. “”So. I got offered my freedom IF i were to lie, I would have to APOLOGIZE publicly and say that I never got raped. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS behind closed doors. I will not take back the TRUTH. I would rather let the truth ruin my career than lie for a monster ever again.”

However, her case was also rejected as the New York judge Shirley Kornreich expressed that she was unable to identify all instances of her alleged abused after two. Hence it was beyond the statute of limitations. 

Lady Gaga:

Lady Gaga courageously revealed in January 2016 that she had been raped at the age of 19 by an older man. Despite the traumatic experience, she kept it private for seven years, not wanting it to define her, similar to Mariska. In her powerful song “Till It Happens to You,” she vividly captures the emotions of being a victim of sexual abuse.

Lady Gaga

Reflecting on the impact of the assault, Lady Gaga shared in The Hollywood Reporter’s podcast Awards Chatter that it was a life-altering event, prompting her to question her journey and choices leading up to that point. She wondered if her clothing, style, and songs about sex inadvertently conveyed a message that condoned such behavior. The experience left her grappling with self-blame and uncertainty.

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