Actress Mariska Hargitay Introduces John Jay College’s Seeing Rape

NEW YORK, N.Y. (May 10, 2024) — John Jay College of Criminal Justice addresses sexual violence through Seeing Rape, a course that examines rape as both an idea and an act and that culminates in performances written by students and staged by professional actors. Students consider rape and sexual violence as it is represented in law, media, film, theater, literature, performance art, and pop music and confront, question, critique, and contest how cultures define rape. Seeing Rape has been seen by more than 8500 people in the theater and more than 100,000 people online. It has promoted the work of more than 150 John Jay undergraduates. 

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This year’s May 8th performance was introduced by Mariska Hargitay from Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation, which is committed to ending sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.

Seeing Rape confronts deeply challenging issues and provides a forum for vital yet difficult conversations,” said President Karol V. Mason. “Our students create compelling and moving performances that ultimately explore how – or if – survivors find justice. We were honored to welcome Mariska Hargitay this year, whose Joyful Heart Foundation envisions a world free of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.”

“From an anthropological perspective, a culture’s social issues need to be examined and dealt with from various disciplines, so we cannot rely solely on the criminal justice system to eradicate sexual assault,” said Professor Shonna Trinch, co-director of Seeing Rape. “At John Jay College, we have contexts where students employ their creative skills of playwrighting, directing, and theater production from their social problem-solving tool kit to raise awareness about sexualized violence and harm, ultimately to end rape. We were honored to have Mariska Hargitay join us as her work and incredible reach as an actress highlight how the arts can be utilized to solve problems.”

“Art can provoke and challenge us to view the world, and sometimes ourselves, differently. It is often the beginning of change,” said Professor Barbara Cassidy, co-creator of Seeing Rape.

Seeing Rape performances were held on May 8 and 9 in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater and were followed by panels with the playwrights, actors, and advocates.

Click here to view past performances and learn more about Seeing Rape: This year’s performances with Mariska Hargitay’s introduction will be on the website soon for viewing.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice:
An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York is a Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution offering a rich curriculum to 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. John Jay is home to faculty and research centers at the forefront of advancing criminal and social justice reform. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College engages the theme of justice and explores fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit

About The Joyful Heart Foundation

Joyful Heart is a leading national organization with a mission to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, and support survivors’ healing. For twenty years, the Joyful Heart Foundation has carried out its mission through an integrated program portfolio of awareness building and advocacy. Our work is paving the way for innovative approaches to healing for professionals and first responders working directly with survivors such as, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), advocates, and law enforcement; igniting shifts in the way the public views and responds to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse; and informing policies and legislation to ensure access to justice for survivors.

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