Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann Open Up About Son’s Stutter and How He Copes

Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann were recently spotted at the 21st Annual Gala for the Stuttering Association for the Young (SAY) – an organization that ‘empowers, educates, and supports young people who stutter.’ The philanthropic couple were inducted into the SAY’s Hall of Fame on Monday (May 22). 

Their involvement with the organization is a personal one for the couple – who have a 16-year-old son, August, that stutters. When SAY approached Hargitay and Hermann, they were blown away by what the organization was doing and were happy to find a loving community for their son to thrive and prosper with.

Hargitay and Hermann met on the set of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2001 and they started dating shortly after. The couple got married on August 28, 2004 and started growing their family in June 2006 with the birth of their son, August. They adopted a daughter, Amaya, and son, Andrew, in 2011. 

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“Our son stutters and it was so beautiful to have this lovely community to introduce him to and learn about it from the experts,” Mariska Hargitay told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview at the Gala. I was just so moved by the work they were doing and this loving community, and I was so grateful to be educated.” 

The couple went on to praise the organization for addressing a major problem those with stutters face – isolation. Hermann couldn’t help but point out how a lot of the people that come to SAY for help have never heard another person with a stutter – which is part of the reason why they feel so isolated in life.

Hargitay expressed how heartbreaking it was to learn that most people with a stutter try to avoid talking to others out of fear that they might stutter. “It’s so heartbreaking to think that all these amazing humans with so much to offer would be holding it in because of how the world treats them, or for fear,” Hargitay says. 

Hermann and Hargitay have enjoyed the process of learning more about the many struggles those with a stutter face on a daily basis and are excited to continue their philanthropic efforts with the organization. They urge others to be open-minded and take the time to understand what others might be going through.

Mariska Hargitay Excited for Son’s Future 

Mariska Hargitay expressed how happy she was to find a community who welcomed her son with open arms – a community overflowing with support from others going through something similar. She couldn’t help but notice how her son never really had anyone to relate to as he struggled with his stuttering. 

“I think that being in a place where you’re surrounded by the people who are dealing with the same thing you are is super special. In school, there aren’t a lot of other people, or on the sports teams you play, at the organizations you go to, at the events I’m at with my parents,” she said of the lack of representation. 

She praised the Stuttering Association for the Young, which is dedicated to helping people who have had their voices silenced for far too long. She called organizations like SAY ‘a gift for all of us’ and it has even helped her with her own inability to express herself – helping her feel more comfortable in her own skin.

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In addition to her work with the Stuttering Association for the Young, Mariska Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004. The organization aims to ‘transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever

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