Mary P. Koss

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Mary P. Koss (born Mary Lyndon Pease). Mary P. Koss is an American Regents’ Professor at the University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health in Tucson, Arizona. Her best known works have been in the areas of gender-based violence and restorative justice. She has been awarded many honors and distinctions including the Visionary Award from End Violence International in 2010. Vice President Joseph R. Biden was the first recipient of this award.

In 1987, Koss, along with her colleagues, Christine Gidycz and Nadine Wisniewski published the first national study on rape.[no citations needed here] The pioneering work of the study lead to the discovery of the 1 in 4 statistic that created awareness of the extent of rape among college students, the development of a method for measuring rape, and coining terms such as date rape and acquaintance rape. The findings presented in this paper have been a lightning rod for controversy and have been challenged, criticized and scrutinized, even to this day.

Following the 1987 publication on campus rape, Koss’ work was treated as science news until 1990 when stark criticism began. Criticism of her work has been constant for her bold and firm views and beliefs on the rape problem that exists in the United States. Honey Badger Radio has portrayed Koss as a feminist who exaggerates the rape of women and downplays the rape of men [5]. Since 2007, her measurement of rape has been gender neutral. This media source’s sarcastic tone pokes fun at the strong work and unwavering views Koss has of rape supportive beliefs. Her work has also been ridiculed by conservative commentators including Rush Limbaugh.

Life and Career

Early Years

Mary Lyndon Pease was born in Louisville, Kentucky. [1] Mary’s maternal grandparents (William and Marian Lyndon Bade) raised her and her four siblings for a period of time, while their mother rehabilitated from polio. [1] Upon graduating high school at age 17, Mary attended the University of Michigan. [1] It was there that she met her husband, Paul G. Koss, MD. After receiving her A.B. in Psychology with high distinction, Mary continued her education at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities along with her husband, Paul. While Paul completed his medical degree, Mary pursued a PhD in Clinical Psychology. After receiving her doctorate, Mary completed her clinical psychology residency at the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center where she worked with Vietnam War veterans in the area of rehabilitation psychology.


After a strong urge from her graduate school professors to enter academia, Dr. Koss joined the faculty of St. Olaf College as an Assistant Professor in August of 1973. [1] She then transferred to a research university, Kent State in 1976. [1] During Koss’ time at Kent State, Mary Harvey, of Victims of Violence Center and National Institute of Mental Health recruited Koss to lead a study on rape prevalence in collaboration with the Ms. Foundation for Research and Education. The project was federally funded through a competitive grants award process [1] Dr. Koss’ work resulted in the groundbreaking 1987 publication, “The Scope of Rape: Incidence and Prevalence of Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of Higher Education Students.” [1] This was the first national, large-scale survey on rape of its kind (link to Campus Rape wiki page). [1] As a result of this and other works, Koss has been credited with coining the terms Date Rape, Hidden Rape, Unacknowledged Rape (link to Date Rape wiki page), Acquaintance Rape (link to Acquaintance Rape wiki page), and Campus Rape (link to Campus Rape wiki page). During Koss’ time at Kent State, she published, “The Hidden Rape Victim: Personality, Attitudinal and Situational Characteristics.” In that paper, she defined the hidden rape victim as, “one who has never reported her experience to a rape crisis center or to police.” [2] Koss defined the unacknowledged rape victims as women who have experienced the behaviors that define rape (oral, anal, or vaginal penetration against consent through force, bodily harm, or when incapacitated and unable to consent) but do realize that their experience constitutes rape or chose not to view it that way. It is now a well-accepted finding reaffirmed by other investigators in national surveys repeated in the early 2000s and most recently reported in 2012. [3] Koss has served as an invited speaker and guest lecturer around the world. In 1991, she testified as an expert witness at the U.S. Senate hearings that led to the first passage of VAWA (link to VAWA- Violence Against Women Act wiki page).

Koss was offered a faculty position in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona in 1987 and later transferred to the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. [1] Dr. Koss has been at the University of Arizona for 27 years, earning tenure in 1988 and designation Regents’ Professor (a position that can only be held by 3% of the University’s faculty) in November, 2006. In her academic career, Koss has published close to 300 works on violence against women, including 145 peer-reviewed scientific articles as well as books, book chapters, and briefs. In addition to the Ms. Study, Koss has led 10 other federally-funded research projects.

Restorative Justice Programs

At the University of Arizona, Koss pioneered an innovative and revolutionized restorative justice program, RESTORE. RESTORE is a voluntary conferencing program for adult misdemeanor and felony sexual assault perpetrators who are referred by a prosecutor. [4] “The RESTORE Program for Restorative Justice for Sex Crimes: Vision, Process and Outcomes” is in its final stages of publication and will be in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. “The paper is the first peer-reviewed quantitative evaluation of RJ conferencing for adult sexual assault.” [4] Also in press is a paper on restorative justice for student misconduct. Koss and her colleagues from The University of Michigan and Carleton College collaborated on the article titled, “Campus Sexual Misconduct: Restorative Justice Approaches to Enhance Compliance with Title IX Guidance. This article is in press and will be published in Trauma, Violence and Abuse: A Review Journal.

Honors and Awards

Mary Koss has received over 20 awards and over 70 recognitions throughout her career. Along with her honors and awards, she has been a distinguished member of professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association. • Stephen Schafer Award, National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) • Distinguished Contribution to Women's Health, American Psychological Association, Committee on Women in Psychology • Distinguished Service Award for the book, No Safe Haven, Male Violence Against Women at Home, at Work, and in the Community • Heritage Award recognizing a substantial and outstanding body of work, American Psychological Association, Division 35 (Psychology of Women) • Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy, American Psychological Association • American Psychological Association Committee on Women in Psychology Leadership Award (Senior Career • Presidential Citation, American Psychological Association • Visionary Award from End Violence Against Women International • Who’s Who in America 55th edition, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, 9th edition, Who’s Who in American Women 26th & 27th edition.

Selected Publications

White, J., Koss, M.P., & Kazdin, A. (2011). Violence against women and girls: Volume I: Mapping the problems. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Koss, M.P., White, J., & Kazdin, A. (2011). Violence against women and girls: Volume II: Navigating the solutions. Washington, DC, American Psychological Association.

Cook, S.S., Koss, M.P., Gidycz, C., & Murphy, M. (2011). Emerging issues in the measurement of rape victimization. Violence Against Women, 17, 201-218.

Gert, M.H., Malamuth, N.M., Pitpitan, E., Yuen, C., & Koss, M.P. (2012). Pornography consumption and attitudes supporting violence: Revisiting the relationship. Sex Roles, 66, 427–439. Koss, M.P. (in press). The RESTORE Program of Restorative Justice for Sex Crimes: Vision, process, and outcomes. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Koss, M.P., Wilgus, J., & Williamsen, K.M. (in press). Campus sexual misconduct: Restorative justice approaches to enhance compliance with Title IX guidance. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse.

Thompson, M.P.; Swartout, K. M.; Koss, M.P. (2013) Trajectories and Predictors of Sexually aggressive behaviors during emerging adulthood. Psychology of Violence.


1. Koss. (2000). “Mary P. Koss.” American Psychologist. 55 (11):1330-1343.

2. Koss. (1985). “The Hidden Rape Victim: Attitudinal, and Situational Characteristics.” Psychology of Women Quarterly. 9 (2):193-212.

3. Koss & Oros. (1980). “The ‘Unacknowledged’ Rape Victim.”

4. Koss. In press. (2014). “The RESTORE Program for Restorative Justice for Sex Crimes: Vision, Process and Outcomes.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

5. Honey Badger Radio. (2014) “Mary Koss and the Rape Game.”

External Links

The 1987 article, “The Scope of Rape: Incidence and Prevalence of Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of Higher Education Students:

Koss, M.P., & Stone, M. (2006). “Current trends in psychological assessment and treatment approaches for survivors of sexual trauma.”

Koss, M., & Achilles, M. (2008). “Restorative justice responses to sexual assault.”

Lonsway, K.A., Banyard, V.L., Berkowitz, A.D., Gidycz, C.A., Katz, J.T., Koss, M.P., Schewe, P.A., Ullman, S.E., & Edwards, D. “Rape prevention and risk reduction: Review of the literature for practioners.”

Sexual Violence: Prevention Strategies. (2014).

Mary P. Koss College of Public Health: