Law and Order

Olivia Benson

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Olivia Benson
Olivia Benson season 16
Name Olivia Benson
Title Sergeant
Affiliation New York City Police Department
Division Special Victims Unit
Precinct 16th Precinct
Occupation Police Officer in charge of the SVU unit
Family Serena Benson (mother; deceased)
Joseph Hollister (father; deceased)
Simon Marsden (half-brother)
Ty Marsden (nephew)
Olivia Marsden (niece)
Noah Porter (foster son)
Status Alive
Actor Mariska Hargitay
First Appearance Payback

Sergeant Olivia "Liv" Benson heads up the Manhattan Special Victims Unit. Prior to taking over SVU, Benson worked as a SVU detective and was partnered with Elliot Stabler for over 12 years. After Elliot's resignation, Benson partnered primarily with Nick Amaro before she became a Sergeant and took over the SVU unit from Captain Donald Cragen in season 15.

Her Detective badge number is 4015.


Olivia was most likely born in 1968 although no birth date has ever been given. She was the product of the rape of Serena Benson in 1967 by a food salesman named Joseph Hollister, who later committed suicide. At the time of the rape, Serena had been working in the cafeteria of Columbia University. Benson's mother, Serena, was an alcoholic who emotionally abused Benson. Serena died from injuries sustained in a fall when she was drunk, which left Benson deeply saddened.

Benson has a half-brother, Simon Marsden. She didn't find out about her brother until they were both adults after she illegally ran her DNA through a kinship analysis. Simon was later accused of a series of rapes, for which he was later cleared.


Benson is deeply sympathetic with victims of sex crimes and as a result; she is often quick to believe victim's stories. Her former partner Elliot Stabler was often more skeptical of victim's accounts, which often brought the two partners into conflict. Benson's ability to sympathize with victims is a tremendous asset, but there are times when it comes back to haunt her,. She went undercover in a women's prison to find a rapist and was almost raped herself until Detective Odafin Tutuola, also undercover there as a guard of the facility, managed to save her just moments before the man, who was a fellow guard, could violate her. Afterwards, Benson developed a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but has been receiving counseling for the assault and has been seen dealing with it more constructively. While speaking to a victim of a separate rape, the victim asked her if she was better having dealt with her rapist, and Benson told her that she was better, but that she wouldn't ever forget what happened. When she was captured by another rapist she was kidnapped tortured and almost raped again. This event brought back her PTSD and goes to therapy to deal with it. She later identifies with a woman named Sarah Walsh who, like her, was sexually assaulted twice and helps both her and herself in dealing with these incidents.

While a dedicated officer, Benson is more likely to go to bat for women she deals with during cases than men, and has shown skepticism during cases where women are the offenders and men are the victim, or allows her sympathy of the victim to cloud her judgement and make her commit actions without thinking. Such as in 'Justice Denied' where she interrogated a man until he confessed to a crime which he was later found to be innocent of and sending him to prison for life, which could have been avoided if she was thinking clearly enough to check on the evidence.

Skills and AbilitiesEdit

Benson speaks some Spanish, Italian, Russian, and French and is able to read the Miranda rights in two or three other languages.[1]

Early lifeEdit

In Philadelphia (2007) and Florida (2007) Benson finds out about the man who raped her mother, and others. He knew about his daughter and kept track of her. He once tried to call her but got Serena instead. Benson was a graduate of Siena College (Stalked).

In the pilot episode Payback, Benson and Serena seemed to care about each other a great deal. Serena was worried about Benson working in the Special Victims Unit. Then in Taken (2000) Serena dies as the result of a fall down the subway stairs across from a bar. Benson says her mother was a drunk. In Abuse (2000) Benson becomes involved with a child who was neglected by her parents that way Benson felt neglected by her mother. In Wanderlust (1999) Benson said she was in love with an older man and that she "couldn't have loved him more." In Intoxicated (2005) Benson tells Casey Novak about an incident when she was 16. An older student of her mother asked her to marry him and when she told Serena that she was leaving, her mother who had been drinking flew into a rage and went after her with a broken bottle. Benson kicked her mother into a wall and ran to Simone Bryce for help. After arguing with ADA Sonya Paxton about alcoholism and seeing her drunk in court, she was moved to leave flowers at her mother's grave.


  • As of season 16, Olivia is the last surviving original character from the first season of Law and Order SVU.


  1. Season 3, Prodigy

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