Hamptonite Mariska Hargitay arrests and jails dozens of rapists as Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU, but real, hard life collided with art when she began speaking out about the hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in police evidence lockers and storage rooms across the country. Hargitay’s effort to bring this injustice to light is featured in the new HBO documentary I Am Evidence, debuting Monday, April 24 at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan.
Because of her role as a detective fighting sexual predators and helping victims of sexual abuse on SVU, Hargitay began to receive thousands of letters from real life victims and it inspired her to try helping in some way. That’s when she learned about the outrageously large number of untested rape kits in America.
“A lot of people just don’t know about this problem, and I was one of those people,” the 53-year-old actress says during a speech documented in the I Am Evidence film. “And then you meet people like Kym Worthy and you see what she’s doing, you sort of can’t help but say, what am I doing?” Worthy is Detroit’s Wayne County Prosecutor who is working to get the city’s 11,000 untested rape kits tested so the victims might finally see justice served to their attackers. “Kim’s commitment to test every last kit here in Detroit is so remarkable,” she continues.
The letters Hargitay received disclosing viewers’ stories of abuse led her to begin this effort, which started in Detroit but will continue in other cities and states. “I educated myself and got involved,” she says, adding, “To me, the rape kit backlog is the clearest and most shocking demonstration of how we regard these crimes.”
Watch the video of Hargitay in I Am Evidence below.