+
More

A much-loved TV cop speaks out to celebrate what Manhattan's DA decided regarding rape kits.

It's like she stepped off of my TV and into my real life to continue kicking ass in the real world, along with other heroes and advocates for rape victims.

You probably know Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson from NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." There, she spends her days taking down some of TV's most vile and disgusting bad guys.

Turns out, though, that her real life isn't all that different. As president and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation, Mariska advocates for sexual abuse victims around the world and works hard to help them heal.


Mariska's top priority? Our country's rape kit problem.

Rape kits go by many names: sexual assault evidence collection kits, sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kits, and others. Essentially, they're packets of evidence, like photographs, swabs, and blood and urine specimens collected following a sexual assault. And it's probably no surprise that the collection of this evidence is often painfully invasive for the victim.

Which is why it really sucks there's a backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits.

Mariska puts it like this:

But there is some good news.

With the support of Mariska and the Joyful Heart Foundation, Manhattan's district attorney recently pledged $35 million to help eliminate that backlog.

His name is Cyrus R. Vance Jr. And those GIFs? That's Mariska right after thanking him for being a great ally to the cause.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Vance's pledge will actually do a lot more than help tackle the rape kit backlog. It'll also go toward creating comprehensive data and information sharing systems nationwide. That means we'll be better equipped to identify suspects, convict perpetrators, prevent future offenses, and even free the innocent. Not just in Manhattan, but across the country.

But there's more work to do. A lot of it, actually.

Mariska says, "So based on test results, there is a staggering number of witnesses to track down, case files to analyze, suspects to pursue, and survivors to reengage with care, with expertise, and with compassion."

And she's right. What her organization has accomplished in conjunction with the district attorney's office is only a baby step toward the ultimate goal.

But here's another.

President Obama just doubled down on the backlog problem with an additional $41 million.

That's a lot of money. And it means making an even bigger dent in the backlog, along with even better information sharing. All in the name of getting survivors the justice they deserve.

Though we still have a long road ahead.

The important thing, for now, is that survivors of sexual assault have some powerful people in their corner. Fighting on their behalf.

The Manhattan DA.

The president of the United States.

And a badass TV cop who won't be backing down any time soon.

You can watch the video here from to learn more about how Cyrus, Mariska, and the Joyful Heart Foundation are making a difference.

via Chewy

Adorable Dexter and his new chew toy. Thanks Chewy Claus.

True

Every holiday season, millions of kids send letters asking for everything from a new bike to a pony. Some even make altruistic requests such as peace on Earth or helping struggling families around the holidays.

But wouldn’t the holiday season be even more magical if our pets had their wishes granted, too? That’s why Chewy Claus is stepping up to spread holiday cheer to America’s pets.

Does your dog dream of a month’s supply of treats or chew toys? Would your cat love a new tree complete with a stylish condo? How about giving your betta fish some fresh decor that’ll really tie its tank together?

Or do your pets need something more than mere creature comforts such as life-saving surgery?

Keep ReadingShow less
Celebrity

U.S. Soccer star expertly handles an Iranian reporter’s loaded questions about race.

Tyler Adams’s response proves exactly why he’s the captain of the US soccer team.

Tyler Adams expertly handles Iranian reporter's question

Reporters are supposed to ask the right questions to get to the truth but sometimes it seems sports reporters ask questions to throw you off your game. There's no doubt that this Iranian reporter who was questioning Tyler Adams, the US soccer team captain at the press conference during the World Cup had an agenda that didn't involve getting to the truth.

It's not clear if the questions were designed to throw the young player off of his game or if the goal was embarrassment. It really is hard to tell, but Adams handled the unexpectedly harsh encounter with intelligence and poise when some may have found it justified for him to get angry.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

'Blind Poet' turned the loss of his vision into an opportunity to build a community on Facebook

At his most vulnerable moment, he found the gift of self-expression.

via Meta Community Voices

Dave Steele aka "The Blind Poet."

True

Dave Steele was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in 2014 and told that he would slowly lose his vision until he was completely blind. Imagine the pain and stress of knowing that every day your sense of sight will slowly diminish until you fall into darkness.

Steele was not only losing his sight, but after his diagnosis, he felt he lost his purpose.

The diagnosis came with an added gut punch: Each of his four children also has a 50% chance of having RP. Steele lost his job, his family couldn’t afford the rent on their home and the waiting list for government benefits was nine months. "I was feeling more guilty about the pressure I was putting on my family and that, in turn, was affecting my vision loss as well and I became more anxious and more isolated because of it,” he told Henshaws InSights.

As his troubles mounted, Steele found solace in talking to others coping with sight loss through Facebook community groups. “That was a real massive, massive help to me,” he told Henshaws InSights.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 07.22.21


As if a Canada goose named Arnold isn't endearing enough, his partner who came looking for him when he was injured is warming hearts and having us root for this sweet feathered couple.

Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Massachusetts shared the story on its Facebook page, in what they called "a first" for their animal hospital.


Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

This week's list includes some adorable animals, some delightful dancing, and a beautiful example of human connection.

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

It's officially December—can you believe it? That means 2022 is almost a wrap, which is wild. I mean, wasn't it just 2020?!?

For many people, December is the season of joy and giving and holiday gatherings, but it can also be a lonely or stressful time for some of our fellow humans. Family isn't a source of comfort for everyone, unfortunately, and challenges with relationships or finances can make for a difficult December. As we reflect on the past year and prepare for the new one, let's all commit to treating one another with an extra dose of kindness.

Let's also remember to celebrate small joys as the days get colder and shorter, like the coziness of a cup of hot cocoa, the sweetness of a child's laughter or the companionship of our furry friends. It's often a large collection of little things that add up to a good life, and thankfully, small joys are cheap and plentiful.

Keep ReadingShow less