Below is a letter I wrote, but never had the opportunity to send, to actress Mariska Hargitay.
She has played a pivotal role throughout my healing process and so I thought I’d share the letter publicly here.
**Does contain details from my assault.**
If you want to take a look at some of the amazing work she’s doing,
check out her Joyful Heart Foundation.
Dear Ms Hargitay,
To have taken an acting role on a show that for over a decade has been enlightening society to the ever prevalent epidemic of sexual violence, would be inspiring enough. What captures me, and I imagine so many of your adoring fans, is that you allowed what could have simply been a gold mine opportunity (to star on a hit series for sixteen years and counting) to touch you personally. Now, your light shines not only from the screen each time someone watches an SVU, but through your public advocacy for victims of domestic and sexual violence. It is no wonder to me, why you likely have the most loyal fans in Hollywood. Through your public role, both on and off the show, you seem to “see” us.
My story. I was with the man who raped me for three hours. Stuck in his car, with no where to run, surrounded by trees and fields, I remember the exact moment the light went out in his eyes, the moment he made his final choice, to ignore all my pleas, to ignore that there was another human person involved at all and to just take what he wanted. My first words to him when he pulled the car over that night were “Stop. I’m sorry, you took the wrong girl home. I don’t do this.” Three hours later, his last words to me were “I’m sorry I had to be so brutal there at the end. I hate when it’s only sex and not making love.” In between, a chorus of no’s, stop’s, pleases and explaining my desire to wait until I was married.
Even with the most supportive family and friends, the healing process from such an event can be a lonely one. In the midst of that loneliness, Law and Order: SVU has been a lifeline for me. In every episode, I’m greeted by the compassion and passion of the squad, victims facing the same obstacles I am, and the knowledge that those I see on the screen represent a real live population of survivors and advocates. Not only has it taught me that I’m not alone, but that the severe symptoms I’m experiencing are part of RTS, that counseling is a vital part of the healing process, and it’s prepped me for the bravery required to stay the ups and downs of the legal system. And you, both as Olivia Benson and Mariska Hargitay, have inflamed my hope, ignited my courage and inspired me to push forward into the great unknown: life after sexual assault.
Now, fourteen months after my assault, I look forward to joining you on the front lines and waging war with you against domestic violence and sexual assault, as I train to become a victim advocate. Perhaps one day our paths will cross. What a glorious gift that would be!
Thank you for being a light in the darkness and sparking a revolution of change. I am indebted to you for giving me the courage to break the silence and I know I am not alone in that debt.
May you, your precious family, and all that you do be abundantly blessed.