According to the Joyful Heart Foundation’s recently refurbished website, the organization’s mission is to heal, educate, and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues. Founder Mariska Hargitay says, “I started the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004 to help survivors of sexual assault heal their minds, bodies and spirits and reclaim their lives. Since then, we have expanded Joyful Heart’s mission and vision. We have had thousands of people participate in our pioneering retreats and wellness programs and have reached millions more through national public awareness campaigns, as well as our website.”
The actress was moved by all of the victims and survivors of abuse who contacted her after she began starring as Detective Olivia Benson in Law & Order SVU in 1998, and she decided to do something to help them. Joyful Heart provides retreats and wellness programs for victims of abuse and survivors of sexual assault, as well as resources to help their caregivers. Due to the intensity of the experience, they only accept survivors actively involved with their partners (certain crisis centers) across the country who are far enough along in their recovery to benefit from their programs, because appropriate care is critical.
Joyful Heart encourages those who want to help their cause–to give back–to become involved in their local communities by raising awareness, urging people to donate funds, and by considering becoming Sexual Assault advocates. Requirements vary from state to state and program to program, but most require volunteers to complete extensive training before becoming certified to work with survivors in an Emergency Department setting. Consider this…spread the word, or just make a donation to this worthy cause. Helping others is always a good thing–and it never goes out of style, no matter who you are.
I admire Mariska so much for starting this foundation, which has already helped countless women find healing and wholeness. She could have just enjoyed her fame and fortune and gone on her merry way, but instead she became a Sexual Assault advocate, established empowerment as her platform, and is now doing all she can to help hundreds of women learn that healing, education, and empowerment can lead to fearlessness. You can read more about the Joyful Heart Foundation here.