A new campaign encouraging those affected by sexual violence to seek support is being unveiled by Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner as part of Sexual Violence Awareness Week.
Out to raise awareness of sexual violence, particularly when it occurs within relationships as is the case in 31% of incidents of rape, the campaign is urging anyone affected to seek help from Lancashire Victim Services in an effort to help those impacted by such "shocking" occurrences in commissioner Clive Grunshaw's words.
"We have to send out a clear message that being in a relationship does not equate to having the right to force or coerce your partner into anything they don't want to do," said Mr Grunshaw at an awareness event at Blackpool Teaching Hospital. "Any form of sexual violence is clearly unacceptable.
"Anyone who uses physical force or coerces their partner to comply is committing a crime and it is important that we spread that message," he added. "If you are in a relationship where that choice is taken away from you I would urge you to contact Lancashire Victim Services for support and advice, even if you don't want to report to the police.
"Supporting victims and vulnerable people is so important and I am committed to making sure that specialist support is out there whenever and wherever it is needed."
The campaign - developed jointly between the Police and Crime Commissioner's office, Lancashire Victim Services, and Lancashire Constabulary - will see posters, banners, and leaflets distributed to health settings and public spaces across the county as well as online to raise the profile of Lancashire Victim Services.
Dee Conlon, Operations Manager at Lancashire Victim Services, commented: "Sexual violence is a terrible crime that has a long lasting impact on those affected. It can happen to anyone, from any background, male, female, young or old. Our specialist case workers are here to provide emotional support and help you to find the best way forward."
Detective Chief Inspector Joanne McHugh from Lancashire Constabulary said: "Our focus is to keep people safe and feeling safe. No person has the right to coerce, intimidate or force their partner to do things they don’t want to.
"We take all reports of rape and sexual assault seriously and will continue to work hard to investigate incidents of sexual violence within any relationship," he added.