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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.

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

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.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

via The Winter Haven Police Department / Facebook

A controversial post by the Winter Haven Police Department in Florida has dredged up a unique debate over whether it's acceptable for a seemingly desperate father to steal from a multi-billion dollar corporation.

On Saturday, the police department posted security camera footage of a man pushing a shopping cart with his two young children at a local Walmart. According to the police, the man attempted to buy diapers and baby wipes but his card was declined at the self-checkout.

The man left the store then returned without the children to buy the products with a different card which was also declined.

The man then left the store with the items without paying.

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