Paula Coughlin, a former Navy lieutenant who was assaulted while in active duty and is now a board member and spokesperson for Protect Our Defenders, said that the year she reported her assault there were almost 100 others listed in the same report but she was the only one who came forward by name.
“When I brought my complaint forward, the very next morning I told [the admiral I worked for] what happened to me and he said, ‘Well that’s what you get when you go down a hall full of drunk aviators,’” she said. “There’s this level of morality and conduct that I couldn’t fathom why he would say anything but, ‘Tell me more and let’s take care of it.’ And it was absolutely a snapshot of the culture in the military.”
Although Coughlin said she “hung in there more than most,” it really took “the media getting ahold of” her story for anything to be done — and even then, she was discharged without her benefits and hearing “you must have the wrong guy” from those who knew her attacker and considered him a “good Christian.”
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