Your Moments

Your support has made many remarkable moments possible in our work to heal, educate and empower. Your commitment, your resolve and your belief in change inspire us every day. We've launched this platform for you to share your own meaningful moments right here. Whether words, an image or a video, we invite you to contribute your moment of joy, gratitude, healing, change, hope, progress—anything significant to you. 

We also ask that you consider making a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you—to support Joyful Heart’s transformative work. 

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$76M to #ENDTHEBACKLOG

This fall, we celebrated as the Manhattan District Attorney's office announced a $35M commitment to ending the backlog through introducing a grant program that...

This fall, we celebrated as the Manhattan District Attorney's office announced a $35M commitment to ending the backlog through introducing a grant program that would help jurisdictions seeking rape kit reform. Less than a month later, a federal spending bill including $41M to address the backlog of untested rape kits passed Congress and was signed into effect by President Obama. We are grateful for these victories and look forward to seeing how this funding will reform criminal justice response to rape, re-engage survivors and bring offenders to justice.

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It's a never ending journey

Since becoming aware of all the outstanding work you do, I have finally been able to accept what happened to me. I have only told a handful of people what really...

Since becoming aware of all the outstanding work you do, I have finally been able to accept what happened to me. I have only told a handful of people what really happened, but that's more than I ever would have told if I didn't find the joyful heart foundation. I haven't been able to tell my family, I didn't report to the police, but by seeing the work you do, it inspired me to open up a little and begin healing. Two years ago I was brutally raped by two men, it was awful.. And I thought the only way to take away the pain of the memories was to hurt myself and eventually end my life... But today I stand proud, still battling with all different forms of self harm, but I'm am able to say I am in the process of healing because of the joyful heart foundation. Thank you so much. You saved my life, literally!!

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no justice, but I've moved forward

When i was four years old I was sexually abused by the babysitter son, she was supposed to keep us safe protect us but i guess that was asking too much, my brother at...

When i was four years old I was sexually abused by the babysitter son, she was supposed to keep us safe protect us but i guess that was asking too much, my brother at the age of6 knew what that boy was doing to us was wrong he told my mother and she immediately took action, she talked to the judge and was informed the boy was too young to prosecute, he was 13 yes he was 12 years old we never got justice, but because of JHF we have a voice and together we can raise awareness thank you JHF victims all you do.

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Stronger Than I Thought

The weekend of Thanksgiving 2015, I was drugged and sexually assaulted by a college student. I woke up the next morning to find myself in a bed with him, and when I had...

The weekend of Thanksgiving 2015, I was drugged and sexually assaulted by a college student. I woke up the next morning to find myself in a bed with him, and when I had fallen asleep I know that I know, that I was on the couch. When i disclosed to my friend (after 5 very longs hours), she kept making excuses for him. I then found out that she had helped planned the events of that night and was a huge part of what had happened to me. I was not only violated, but I was strangled and it caused a lot of problems. I still have a hard time talking, because it feels like my vocal chords are still crushed. This experience changed my life forever, and I will never be the same. It changed the way I view a lot of humanity both negatively and positively. I had taken a picture the morning I woke up to document the amount of time it took for all the bruising to go away, and although I am really nervous to be sharing this with all of you, I want this to help someone. You are not alone. The one quote I turn to often is, "You survived what you thought would kill you. Now straighten your crown and move forward like the queen you are." I hope this can help someone, like it helped me. Because of what happened to me I now have a bigger heart for survivors. I want to help every person who has walked through this. I want turn change the rape culture around so much that when someone says "rape culture", no one in the room even knows what they are talking about.

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From survivor to therapist

I was able to start the healing process and am a current therapist who helps people with eating disorder and who also deal with PTSD. I am grateful for this wonderful...

I was able to start the healing process and am a current therapist who helps people with eating disorder and who also deal with PTSD. I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity.

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Thank You Mariska

Mariska words cannot describe how inspiring you have been, you have given me the courage to tell my mom about how I was molested as a kid. The back story is that my...

Mariska words cannot describe how inspiring you have been, you have given me the courage to tell my mom about how I was molested as a kid. The back story is that my abuser was my neighbor who my family was very close to. I knew what he did to me but I never realized it was bad when it happened I was age 6-12 I was young I didn't know. I was friends with his niece and I told her what he did and she said he did it to her too. From then on I knew it wasn't good anymore so I kept my distance. I didn't want to tell anybody because he had a wife and a daughter and I didn't want to get him into any trouble. I'm 17 now and about a 3 months ago I told my mom I'm not sure why I waited so long, I guess I thought since I moved 5 hours away it wouldn't haunt me anymore. I use to cry about it at night because it still haunted me I felt so bad for my young self that I felt that way about him; not wanting him to get in trouble. You gave me the courage to tell my mom it wasn't easy at all but I knew if I told her a huge weight would be lifted off my chest and it did. I finally feel free and I feel like I can really be myself. I use to think of myself as worthless because someone took advantage of me I use to be the victim but now I'm the survivor and surviving feels great. It was such a long time ago but it hurt for a long time because it ruined my self esteem because I felt like anyone could take advantage of me like that. When it says "submit a moment of:" joy,healing,change, and gratitude really do apply to me. Thank you Mariska for everything you have done.

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Healing and justice

I never received justice for my sexual assault or physical abuse. In fact, my abuser died. Finding the Joyful Heart Foundation, SVU, Mariska, has provided me with the...

I never received justice for my sexual assault or physical abuse. In fact, my abuser died. Finding the Joyful Heart Foundation, SVU, Mariska, has provided me with the justice and healing that I need. For years I couldn't share my story, I was depressed, angry, and stayed in bed all day everyday for months. I stumbled upon the foundation and Mariska and things slowly started to change. It was the first time that I learned that people care about me and wanted to help me! Thank you! Thank you for saving my life!

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Little Sister

My little sister was raped by my stepfather when she was just 10. Your foundation helped her, along with local therapy. Now, at age twelve, I almost see that bright eyed...

My little sister was raped by my stepfather when she was just 10. Your foundation helped her, along with local therapy. Now, at age twelve, I almost see that bright eyed little girl again who's not afraid. Thank you, from a big sister, and an open-eyed supporter.

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VICTIM TO SURVIVOR TO ADVOCATE

Growing up I loved watching shows such as Law & Order SVU. I admired Mariska Hargitay who played Sergeant Olivia Benson. She is such a powerful woman who helps solve...

Growing up I loved watching shows such as Law & Order SVU. I admired Mariska Hargitay who played Sergeant Olivia Benson. She is such a powerful woman who helps solve cases of sexual assault victims both men and women. Fighting against sexual assault on TV is not the only thing she does. Mariska Hargitay is the Founder and President of the Joyful Heart Foundation, which helps victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. Sexual violence can have mental, emotional, and physical effects on a survivor. The trauma of being sexually assaulted is not easy to deal with, but with the right help and support it can be managed. My first encounter with sexual assault started at a very young age. From the ages of 12-17 I was molested by someone I trusted. Over those 5 years I dealt with depression, anger, and many suicide attempts. After moving, I soon graduated from high school and it was time for college. Going into college I still dealt with depression and anger but I didn't let it show, I wanted to enjoy my freshmen year and put my abuse behind me. Unfortunately, I was raped my freshmen year of college by someone who I also trusted. It was very hard for me to not only deal with a five year abuse but to deal with being raped in college as well. After that I could never put my trust in anyone ever again until this day.A college education should not include a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted. During my sophomore year I told my story at an event, my emotions completely took over but I was able to finish which was a huge breakthrough for me. After telling my story I decided to get counseling and I soon became a sexual assault awareness advocate. My junior year of college I became an ItsOnUs Student Advisory Committee Member. ItsOnUs is a campaign launched by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that fights against sexual assault on college campuses. It was great to see that two of the most powerful people in the world come together to fight against an important issue. With ItsOnUs I hosted events on my college campus, went to high schools in Atlanta to speak to students about the campaign and educate them on sexual assault, talk to school administration about better ways to deal with the issue, and helped give survivors the support and resources they need. Being involved with ItsOnUs helped me gain a voice, and gave me the opportunity to meet the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden and visit the White House. The best thing about being an advocate is meeting other survivors, supporting them, and providing the resources they need. ItsOnUs to be apart of the solution and not the problem, ItsOnUs to end sexual assault.

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Healing My Heart

I am still on my journey of healing my heart, and my mind, after being sexually, physically, and psychologically abused from age 3 to 18. I was never believed when I...

I am still on my journey of healing my heart, and my mind, after being sexually, physically, and psychologically abused from age 3 to 18. I was never believed when I tried to tell as a child, so I stopped trying to tell; especially after being told by a church leader that "(I) wouldn't be getting hurt if (I) was just more obedient". Now, as an adult, I work with my therapist; and with the support of God, I am finally healing. As I heal, I pray for ways I can help to stop the abuse of children. No child deserves to be abused! I am thankful that I recently found The Joyful Heart Foundation, and for the work you do to end sexual assault and child abuse. Thank you!

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Loving "Lisa"

Pure love is what I've sought for as long as I can remember. Over my almost 5 decades of life, the definition of that love I sought after has evolved through life...

Pure love is what I've sought for as long as I can remember. Over my almost 5 decades of life, the definition of that love I sought after has evolved through life experiences, listening to others, & watching individuals interact with humanity. What I've come to learn is: love is for ALL, love is in us all, when we experience intimately that innate love that is inside us, nothing can keep it from expressing itself except our choice to suppress it. So as I enter my last year pre-50 yrs old, I choose, daily, to clear my mind to see that love within me and to live in such a way that allows that beautiful love to flow so effortlessly through me to everyone I interact with. Like everyone, my story is personal and bears triumphs and battles, that right now I choose to keep personal as the healing process continues. Deep inside I know that it needs to be shared with others, some day, soon, till then…I choose to go out and LOVE, not as I desire to be loved but loved as I have been loved.

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Pure Joy

In August, I married the most kind, and patient man I know.

In August, I married the most kind, and patient man I know.

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Fearlessness

I was in a severely abusive relationship for about 6 months when I was dating a guy I met my senior year of high school. There were times that he beat me until I was...

I was in a severely abusive relationship for about 6 months when I was dating a guy I met my senior year of high school. There were times that he beat me until I was unconscious and times my skin was so bruised that I didn't recognize who I was. Each time, I wished that I would have died so I wouldn't have to endure the pain I was in. I thought I deserved everything he threw at me and that I didn't deserve to get help from friends and family I had pushed away in the process. I had never told anyone what had happened to me until I decided to just write my story out and put it in the mail to someone who deeply cares about what happened during those 6 months and the time I managed to leave my abuser. I'm a junior in college now where I'm studying to be an elementary school teacher and happier than ever. If you would have asked me 3 years ago if I would be standing here today, genuinely happy, I would have told you you were crazy. I'm so glad I stuck around to see today and the future.

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Sometimes Sunshines in my life

I start my week with Sunday worship. Then Monday is meditation time to reflect on where I am and to thank God for giving me the strength to forgive. Once you are able to...

I start my week with Sunday worship. Then Monday is meditation time to reflect on where I am and to thank God for giving me the strength to forgive. Once you are able to forgive, the person who hurt you no longer has any power. The memories are still there but you are free. Your smile returns. You are able to show compassion to another. You become an active listener. Your walk changes and above all your heart will change. I now understand the meaning of the battle is the Lord's not mine. There are times when I just ask the lord to "fix it". The valley I walked through I would not wish upon the one who used and abused me. Prayer changes things no matter what others may tell you. Even when the images come, tears fall but I know in His time all wrongs will be made right. It is in His word and His promise. There is healing if you are willing to let it go. The decision is up to you. Let 2015 be the year you decide to start the healing process. You will feel renewed with a rejuvenated spirit

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Learning to Love Myself and to Heal

I was sexually,physically, and emotionally abused from age 2 to 28, by people I heavily relied on to love and care for me. I was born with psychosis, which my traumatic...

I was sexually,physically, and emotionally abused from age 2 to 28, by people I heavily relied on to love and care for me. I was born with psychosis, which my traumatic experiences worsened. In adult life, while I worked, they kept stealing from me and continued hurting me. As a teen, I became a Christian, and felt obligated to extend unconditional "forgiveness" at the expense of my own hurt feelings. When I did this, one of my caretakers became even more abusive than before. This went on for many years. I have been married for 20 years now, and my children are teenagers. I have never abused them and have been kind to them. The abuse in my family tree--ends with Me, after 4 generations of abuse. I am in trauma therapy and seeing a psychiatrist. My story WILL be known. Keeping hurts a secret can serve to keep a person a victim and keep others from benefiting from sharing their experiences. I am now in my 50's. It's been a long journey of dissassociated memories coming back to mind.

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