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How Law & Order: SVU helped more victims of rape come forward

Law and Order: SVU isn’t just good for binge-watching when you need to see some on-screen girl power.

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Mariska Hargitay, fierce queen that she is, says the show has also helped change the way society views sexual assault and its survivors.

This show has shed new light. When people approach me in the street and tell me, ‘I came forward and reported my rape because of you and the show,’ that is the best part,” Hargitay told Page Six. “It is the changing of societal views — stop blaming the victim. I noticed my attitudes as well as others have changed. I used to think, ‘Why is she drinking so much?’ or ‘Why did she go over there?’… It is not about women protecting themselves, it is about men not being violent.”

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It’s no wonder SVU has had that kind of impact. After all, the show exists in some magical alternate universe where assault victims are always believed and always treated with respect and compassion. Oh, and the police always do their absolute best to make sure the perps go behind bars and stay there for a long time, which, as we all know, is a far cry from how the justice system usually works IRL.

And maybe that’s at least part of why the show is so successful. Hargitay has been starring in SVU since the very beginning, which was 18 years and 400 episodes ago. After the cast’s 400th episode celebration this week, Hargitay admitted that she has a lot of trouble picking a favorite SVU story.

“It is impossible in 18 years to pick a favorite episode,” she said. “Guest appearances are pretty cool, like when Joe Biden was on the show.”

More: Mariska Hargitay fights real-life SVU cases

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

Mariska Hargitay through the years
Image: NBC

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