New England Patriots honor Northeastern professor for providing support to victims of sexual violence

Beth Molnar, an associate professor of health sciences at Northeastern, has volunteered at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center for 20 years. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Beth Molnar, an associate professor of health sciences at Northeastern, has received an award from the New England Patriots Foundation for her ongoing effort to provide critical support to victims of sexual violence through the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.

Molnar has volunteered at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center for 20 years, including the past four years as president of the center’s Board of Directors. She began volunteering in 1998 in the center’s medical accompaniment program, which provides 24-hour support to survivors of sexual assault. For seven years, she held the hands of sexual assault victims as they visited the emergency room, answered their questions, and advocated for their medical needs.

During her years as a member of the board, the center partnered with the MBTA on an anti-sexual harassment campaign and educated local bartenders to be active bystanders for their customers.

Earlier this month, Molnar received a 2018 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award from the Patriots Foundation as part of the its initiative to celebrate volunteerism. The award is named in honor of the wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, whose family foundation donated $10,000 to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center in recognition of Molnar’s work.

“Beth has been an integral BARCC volunteer for two decades and has left her mark both in our direct service work and in organizational leadership,” Gina Scaramella, the center’s executive director, said in a statement announcing the award.

Molnar’s work is influenced by her own experience. She was sexually assaulted in her 20s, she said, and sought to volunteer at the center to help others who experienced trauma and to help herself heal.

Molnar has spent her entire career working with vulnerable youth and others who have been exposed to trauma. She has studied youth violence and child abuse as a social and psychiatric epidemiologist for more than two decades.

From left to right: Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Northeastern professor Beth Molnar, and NFL Hall of Famer Andre Tippett. Photo courtesy of Beth Molnar.

At Northeastern, Molnar developed a toolkit to help professionals who assist trauma victims cope with the physical, emotional, and mental impact of their work. These people include victim service providers, firefighters, and emergency medical services responders, who often experience negative residual effects when they are continuously exposed to the trauma of others.

Molnar said the toolkit—the website for which recently surpassed 1 million views—grew out of her work at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, which provides support to volunteers to ensure their work doesn’t negatively affect their lives.

“I feel very privileged that I’m able to combine my professional and volunteer community service worlds, and that my life’s work in both capacities is about helping people with history of trauma,” Molnar said.