Mariska Hargitay – “I Am Evidence” and America’s Sexual Assault Epidemic | The Daily Show

Please welcome Mariska Hargitay. (cheering and applause) Welcome to the show. Thank you.
I am very happy to be here. This is so much fun having you,
because, I mean, like, Law & Order
I’ve watched my whole life, and I watched your show
in South Africa. -It’s big. And I always wonder,
-Hmm. like, when you’ve played
a character like Olivia Benson
for as long as you have, do you sometimes feel
like you, like, know the law? Like, do you ever feel
like you are in law enforcement -sometimes?
-No, I… Absolutely, I feel like I do. And I’m also somebody
that jumps in and gets confused about what my real job is.
(laughs) There-there have been times
in my life where I’ve seen something
on the street and I jump in. Like, “Hey! Put that down! Get in here! Come here.” And I’ve done it so many times. I’m like, “Mariska,
you need to calm down.” -Yeah, but I-I feel like you
play your character -Seriously. so convincingly that if you
did that to me in real life, I’d be like, “Yeah,
it’s Law & Order.” (cries out) I’d be like, “It’s Law & Order.” No, it’s been fun, you know. This-this…
When you do something -Right.
-for 19 years– I started the show
when I was four– and when you do… -(laughs)
-No, but when you do some… Why is he laughing? That feels weird. I’m gonna be 23.
Anyway, um, I… I, um, when you do something
for this long, -you know, your body
sort of reacts to it. -Right. -Right, right.
-So when I get… When there’s crisis,
I go into crisis mode. I like that, I like that a lot. I go into lieutenant mode. -Go into lieutenant mode.
-I’m not in that mode right now. (both laugh) The, uh, the show is-is
an interesting one because, you know, Law & Order
has so many different spin-offs, but Special Victims Unit is one that connected
with so many people -in a visceral way.
-Yeah. Hmm. Because we were used
to glamorous crimes. You know,
it was always all the murder. It was the this, it was
the swindling, it was the… But Special Victims Unit
tackled something that, like, a lot of people
have experienced, unfortunately. -Hmm. -You know,
the #MeToo movement has exposed how pervasive sexual assault
and harassment have been, and that’s-that’s what your show
has been covering -for so long.
-Mm-hmm. You went through
an interesting experience where people who were victims, uh, and survivors
of sexual assault or harassment reached out to your character, like, they wrote you fan mail -and asked you for help.
-They did. Like, they actually went,
“I need your help.” Did people not know
that your character wasn’t real or-or was it something else? You know, I think that,
for so long, um, survivors have been living
in a culture of, um… of shame and isolation. Uh, when I started the show,
I started… -I’d come off E.R.
-Right. And so when you’re, you know,
getting normal fan mail, you get, “Hi, I love your show.
Can I get an autographed photo?” And… (clears throat) all
of a sudden, when I started SVU, after the show had been airing
for a while, I started getting a very
different kind of fan letter, um, with victims
actually disclosing their stories of abuse. And many for the first time. And in those letters, there always was
the same theme, again, of shame, stigma, and isolation. -Isolation.
-Right. And them saying
“I’ve never told anyone before” and not feeling safe
to tell anyone or feeling scared
that it wouldn’t… they wouldn’t be believed or
it wouldn’t be received right. -Right. -So I think
that they went to this… f-fictionalized character that maybe was the first person that showed empathy
and compassion. And they knew that Olivia was
always for the victim first and felt safe there. And hopefully now
that is indeed changing. Right. And that’s a powerful
connection for people to have with a character and with a…
with-with a show. And it’s something that I think many people
would find overwhelming. I don’t know if I’d be able
to handle that. I don’t know
how I would handle it. But you, you took it
and turned it into something really positive. You started your foundation,
Joyful Heart. What is Joyful Heart all about? Thank you. Well, I… You know, when I started getting these
letters, as you can imagine, I was, um… shocked and wanted to respond
and was so, uh… -It was very painful, receiving
these letters. -Mm-hmm. And I-I didn’t know
how to respond. So I tried to-to educate myself. And, uh, I was so… enraged when I learned about the
statistics of sexual assault, that-that one in three women
and one in six men will be abused
in their lifetime. I mean, this wa…
these were crazy statistics. And I thought, if-if those were
the statistics, uh, one in four women will be
assaulted by her 18th birthday, h-how is it that everybody
wasn’t talking about this? -Right.
-This was an epidemic. So that’s when I started
educating myself. And when I did, um, my research for the role
of-of playing Olivia, besides hanging out…
(clears throat) in police, you know, precincts and
with cops and doing ride-alongs, I also went
through a 40-hour training to become
a rape crisis advocate, -which taught me how to deal
with survivors, -Wow. because I knew I wanted
to play this character, um, in-in a different way, with all of myself and all
of my humanity and empathy and-and femininity. And not in, you know,
a-a female in a man’s world, -and not in a…
in a sort of male way. -Right. Um, you know,
playing this hard-ass, you know, badass detective who, as we all have different sides
of us, also has compassion… -Yes. -empathy and humanity,
as I said. So, um, that’s when
I sort of put a… structure to…
to my anger and started
the Joyful Heart Foundation to help victims reclaim,
you know, their… reclaim their lives, or reclaim
possibility and joy. And then in 2009, I learned about
the rape kit backlog. Right. In 2009, I learned about… Uh, there was a study done
by Human Rights Watch that exposed this… (laughs) unbelievable travesty
in our nation that when a woman
was brave enough and courageous enough to come forward
after being assaulted, and would go through
a four to six-hour… often completely invasive, -and often retraumatizing
examination… -Mm-hmm. And they would do, you know,
a sexual assault evidence, you know, collection kit, and poke them and prod them. And, you know, it’s a
humiliating, painful process. And then we found out that these kits were sitting
on shelves in police storage facilities. And you would assume that
in America, in this country, obviously if the evidence
collection kit was-was taken, -it would be processed.
-Right. And we found
that that wasn’t the case. And I found out
the first case was… Um, the first time I found out
about it was the study done in-in California,
in Los Angeles that there were 12,000,
I think, 669 kits. So, the following year, I went to testify
before Congress, and that’s when I met this amazing badass of a woman named Kym Worthy who was
the Wayne Country Prosecutor… -Right.
-…who was also testifying. And when we met, it was… -We were done.
-You-you… You know, it was a little bit
of a match… -Right.
-…made in heaven. And you’ve been on a journey
ever since. And this documentary, I think,
is in many ways a culmination of that journey, because this story
is illuminating in so many different ways. We learn about these rape kits
that are taken. Uh, we learn about
the experiences of these women who have survived
these horrific incidents. And then we learn
that there are just backlogs. There are kits
that are sitting on shelves, and rapists are walking free
in the streets. Some people may say,
“Okay, that-that’s bad.” But there’s a story
in particular where one woman’s rape was tied
to another woman’s rape… -Yeah.
-…13 years later. Is this a story
that you come across often? Well, you know, the… the rape kit backlog,
which of course, after we found that there were,
you know… This was the same…
the same story in every city. -Right.
-Right? And there are estimated
hundreds of thousands of-of rape kits sitting
in police storage facility, and there are so many reasons
to test these kits. But not testing them clearly
sends a message to survivors, saying, “You don’t matter
and your kit doesn’t matter and your case doesn’t matter,” and it certainly tells
perpetrators, -“Well, it doesn’t matter.
Continue.” -Right. What we learn is that
by putting the DNA in the CODIS, which is the national database,
we kept finding hits, and that there were
so many serial rapists. Kym found, in Detroit,
I think out of 11,000 kids, there were… eight hundred… 879 serial rapists. So in the movie,
which was very, you know, difficult to put together–
this was my first documentary, and we interviewed 14 women,
all with the most… who were
so extraordinarily brave, but with these
compelling stories– and I’ll tell you,
I could have made a documentary -on each one of these woman,
with their stories. -Right. But, you know, a documentary,
how do you tell the story, how do you weave it together? And then…
we found that one of… one of the rapists was indeed
a, um, truck driver -who, uh, had…
hadn’t been apprehended. -Right. And one of the women
was waiting, uh, 11 years… 14 years for the precinct
to call her back. They never did. And in the meantime… he was busy assaulting
other women. -So…
-It’s… yeah, it’s a story -that… that is enraging,
-It’s enraging. it’s frustrating, um,
and at the same time, uplifting, because of what
we see in the documentary. We see the work that
your organization is doing. We see the work that
these women are doing, fighting this process. What can be done, though? Some people go, it’s a backlog, the police department
cannot do anything, -Oh, we can. -but New York City
has done something. -What can be done?
-And I wanted to make this movie because it’s so hard…
hard-hitting. And again, when I found out
about it in 2009, you know,
my head almost exploded. I just remember going,
“This can’t… this cannot be.” -Right.
-It can’t be. This is America. How… It can’t be. And I remember doing
a satellite media tour the following year, and none
of the journalists, nobody knew. They’d go, “Wait, what?” They would stop me and say,
“You’re telling me… “that the woman goes
through this examination and they’re not testing
the kits?” And so… this is an incredibly… You know, how do you measure
sexual assault in this country? How do you measure
how women are being treated? And that’s what I thought–
this is a perfect -sort of microcosm
of how we treat women, -Right. how we treat survivors. And, uh… it’s sort of, like… sort of holds a mirror
up to the country, and says, “This is what we’re doing,
so let’s change it.” The good news is, it’s fixable. The good news is
that Joyful Heart, my foundation
that I founded in 2004, has been… has made
the rape kit backlog our number one
advocacy priority. And so we have made
these six pillars of legislation that we’re trying
to push through, and we are changing legislation
in every state. Um, New York doesn’t have
a backlog. Thank God. And, um, certain…
certain states by states and cities by cities
are cleaning up their backlog. -Right. -So you can go
to and find out what you can do,
write to your legislators, write to your congressmen,
and we can change it. We just have to be persistent
and never give up. I think that sounds amazing. -Thank you so much for being
on the show. -Thank you so much. I Am Evidence debuts
Monday, April 16, at 8:00 p.m. on HBO. And for more information
about how you can help, visit Mariska Hargitay, everybody.

100 thoughts on “Mariska Hargitay – “I Am Evidence” and America’s Sexual Assault Epidemic | The Daily Show

  1. This women would make a better supreme court justice than Kavanaugh. For that matter she would make a better president.

  2. Law and order helped me figure out what I want to do. I started watching this show when I was 7or 8 and after about a year of watching this show I knew I wanted to be an SVU prosecutor

  3. I have so much respect for this woman now. This is what you are supposed to do with success. You do some good for others.

  4. Oh she is indeed eligilble for Nobel prize on research..every prize for human rights..every prize for women rights..every prize for acting role..every prize exists for ameruca great again..every peaces prize..💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖

  5. This woman deserve an Emmy every year shes been in Law and Order. Specially from Season 11 to Season 20 has been sooooo on fire 🔥 🔥🔥🔥

  6. What I love about you Trevor,is that you're a professional, you do your job with grace,you ask good questions,and you do a lot of reading and research,keep it up bro,I have never seen one like you before.📚

  7. Why can the each state create a branch of the police that only does rape kits? The have other specialized offices for fraud, children etc.

  8. This is such valuable information that needs to be addressed. There are very real monsters out there that can and should be apprehended. These predators are counting on this very type of negligence. Thank you Trevor and M for bringing this to the public consistently.

  9. I really appreciate how informative and amazing this interview was. I felt like it was such a heartfelt and emotional talk that was given such a great platform. Thank you for both of your work.

  10. Law & Order SVU was horrifically disturbing…
    #metoo #better #healing
    Her energy is like one of my close friends 💕

  11. Hey I'm Michele and I have a story for you love u Mariska it's Michele Prince and please call Laura and she will fill u in 5133141572

  12. I clicked on this mainly because in the thumbnail Mariska is looking at Trevor the same way Olivia Benson looks at Rollins or Carisi when the piss her off

  13. What a fantastic woman and Trevor is such a thoughtful and intelligent man. He's funny but his topics are always geard towards morality and equal rights for all people

  14. I like reading the comments on Trevor's clips. It restores my faith in the American people, and proves that there are many intelligent and thoughtful people living here.

  15. I just love her. Going to watch the documentary and see what the word is on rape kits in my state. Getting my kicking toe ready. 😊

  16. Do any of you wonder why the rape kits were not tested? Because the money is going to prosecute false rape accusations as well as real ones. No one cares about either group, that is the falsely accused or the actual victim when it comes to the criminal justice system. It's only about winning.
    We are learning about untested rape kits but we are also learning about three innocents a week often serving decades in prison being exonerated by the Innocence Project.

  17. The backlog is disgusting and disgraceful. People spends hundreds of dollars after an assault to collect those kits. It is disgusting to allow rapist free because someone doesnt want to do work

  18. Women also have to pay for these kits. I saw somewhere that one woman was billed over $1000 for her's. It's disgraceful.

  19. NEVER GIVE-UP! Thank you, nice to know people with connections care.  Because the "your not the only one" bull I get from cops some times make me want to stick a fork in my ears!

  20. Trevor good job… Coz its bizarre just how many times law enforcement has overlooked some thing like this with devastating consequences. I've watched serial killer documentaries were law enforcement clearly knew who the offender was but overlooked it until many more fell victims to their crimes…

  21. One flashes on that closing scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

    Clearly, many of those "Top Men" are in law enforcement.

  22. Such BS my baby sister was rapped when she was 16 they didn't catch him until she was 34 and we are still waiting for his sentence he was arrested for I similar crime it sad to know they're not testing the kits

  23. She is a role model in advocating against sexual violence, as well as a talented actress. As a mental health professional, it has always been astounding how prevalent sexual abuse and assault is and how shitty the system is. No one should ever feel alone or ignored and everyone's voice is needed to speak up and change it.

  24. The entire world of men
    BELIEVE not think that they
    OWN and can USE & ABUSE
    Women and Discard them
    Why the fuck is that
    WTF is that all about
    And if it is not true:
    I'm from Missouri
    " Show Me"
    All you so called men prove that it is not true
    Real men would stand up for women

  25. If you didn’t sing “Den den, dendeneneeeen…. deneirrooo” when she walk in…

    You weren’t raised right 🤷🏾‍♂️

  26. I watched her show from the very first episode. I really love her approach and the episode that really hit me the most is with William Lewis because I think this character was inspired by ted bundy. I am watching youtube from china and I am out of my mind hearing about these rape kits that are only sitting on a shelf. You are a real example for me and I really look forward to meet you one day and express how I am proud of you!

  27. Americans are the only ones who don’t notice how shitty their country truly is… compared to other developed nations.

  28. Now you see ,why women don't come forward. Doing everything the right way and still ,the police were doing nothing

  29. god dam thats a man holy cow look at those man hands!!!!! she how he is always hiding his hands, sure sign MAN

  30. I've never watched her show, but I see why people would reach out to her…as a person, Mariska is extremely warm, grounded and empathetic.

  31. Wow! What a beautiful human! It takes a lot of love, dedication and courage to do what she is doing! It's heartbreaking and infuriating that rape victims have to go through a humiliating process when they are courageous enough to report the assault! I think that the main problem is that most police officers are male and tend to believe more in the super sexist "don't get raped" ideology! We need to have in charge people(regardless of sex) who actually care about the victims and prevention of rape other than telling women to not get raped!!

  32. Of all the guests visiting The Daily Show, Mariska Hargitay stole my heart away. A real phenomenal genuine person of the century. Compare her with Donald Trump the filthy pig shit who has even tried to rape sexually person's wife (its on tape, Trump confessing to this act). Why the GOP do not revolt against Trump, Dont they have any ethics, morals and princeples in life ? I meant ANY? Hope Lindsay Graham and Jordan are run over by a truck, sorry, but that depressed I am with their dishonesty

  33. The deterioration of our system of laws and personal restraint is increasing exponentially. And Trump is an added acceleration!

  34. I love you for this. I have written letter up angry bitter letter to try to push but I would like to really do something to help.

  35. I went to the end backlog site and searched up the state I live in and they do nothing over 1 million untested kits that's revolting I'm still a minor so there isn't much I can do right now but if you see this plz help Minnesota Mariska PLEASE

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