A new campaign encouraging anyone affected by sexual violence to seek support is being launched in Lancashire as part of Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

The campaign, funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw, raises awareness of sexual violence, particularly within relationships and urges anyone affected to seek help from Lancashire Victim Services.

Speaking at an awareness event at Blackpool Teaching Hospital Mr Grunshaw said: “Any form of sexual violence is clearly unacceptable.

“We know that 31% of all reported rapes in Lancashire happen within relationships. This is shocking and 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.

“Anyone who uses physical force or coerces their partner to comply is committing a crime and it is important that we spread that message.

“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.

“It is fitting that we launch the campaign here in Blackpool where my office is funding a specialist support worker to offer help to anyone who has experienced sexual violence while they are receiving care at the Hospital.

“Making sure that support is available in health settings is a great step forward and it means that those affected can get support in a place where they may feel able to speak out about what has happened to them.

“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.”

Dee Conlon, Operations Manager at Lancashire Victim Services added: “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.”

The campaign which has been 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.

Materials will also be shared on websites and across social media to raise awareness and direct people to Lancashire Victim Services for help and support.