MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- More than 50 people at Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) attended a professional speaker event about the prevention of, and recovery from, sexual assault, in support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) April 30.
Ashley Manta, currently serving as the Public Relations chairperson on the Board of Directors for Voices, Inc., served as the guest speaker for the event. Since 2006, she has completed more than 200 hours of training in domestic violence victim advocacy, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and rape crisis counseling.
During her presentation, Manta explained that based on current statistics, nearly one in five women, and one in 71 men have been raped.
"About 80 percent of female victims experienced their first rape before the age of 25, and almost half experienced the first rape before age 18," Manta said. "For male victims, 28 percent of them were raped when they were 10 years old or younger."
About 600 sexual assaults were reported in the Navy last year.
"As Navy officers and Sailors serving to protect our nation, we also have the utmost responsibility to protect our shipmates," said Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich, commander, NAVSUP. "Each of us knows what constitutes sexual assault, and we must identify those situations, step up, intervene and permanently end sexual assault in our Navy. Prevention is everyone's duty."
During her presentation, Manta explained for victims of sexual assault, the most difficult issue is seeking help.
"I, myself, am a rape victim. I first told my story at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia at a, 'Take Back the Night' rally," Manta said.
Seeing the impact she made on others by telling her story prompted her desire to continue helping others, according to Manta, who has experienced symptoms of PTSD.
Manta said that speaking out, breaking the silence, allows sexual assault victims to "acknowledge the events in our lives that have shaped us."
"It allows us to challenge cultural norms, and beliefs, that victimization 'isn't something you talk about,' and brings it into the light where we can advocate and heal," Manta said. "It allows us to form a community to help each other. The best thing you can do for a victim is ask, 'What can I do for you?'"
In closing, Heinrich thanked Manta for sharing her story, and for helping others.
"Your ability to tell your story means so much, and you and your team are making a difference for many," Heinrich said.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is working aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
NAVSUP's primary mission is to provide U.S. naval forces with quality supplies and services. With headquarters in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP oversees logistics programs in the areas of supply operations, conventional ordnance, contracting, resale, fuel, transportation, and security assistance. In addition, NAVSUP is responsible for quality of life issues for our naval forces, including food service, postal services, Navy Exchanges, and movement of household goods.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.21stcentury.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Naval Supply Systems Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navsup/.