A HARD-hitting film which encourages vulnerable adults to speak out about abuse has been released in Cornwall this week.
The film, produced by local film-maker Mark Hewitt, features victims of abuse from Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly speaking about their experiences and encouraging other victims to seek help.
Last year there were more than 800 referrals to Cornwall's safeguarding adults service – an increase of 17 per cent from the previous year and a rise of 245 per cent over the last six years.
However, experts say that the rise is not due to an increase in incidents but improved awareness of abuse and an increase in the willingness of victims to report incidents.
The DVD, commissioned by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Safeguarding Board, is designed to help raise public awareness of the issue of adult abuse as part of this year's 'If you see something, say something' campaign.
Rob Cooper, chairman of the board, said: "We wanted to make a film which raises awareness of the issue of abuse and provides information and advice on how to recognise the signs and what to do if you suspect someone is being abused.
"We are delighted with the final film, which will now be made available on the websites of Cornwall Council and other partners, and will also be used for providing safeguarding training for voluntary and community sector organisations."
Mr Hewitt, a former Marine who served in Afghanistan, said he was not prepared for some of the stories told by those featured in his film.
He said: "After being selected to produce this film, during the interviews at times I was shocked and surprised at some of the accounts of abuse I was told about.
"Having worked in many Third World countries, we often think these things don't happen in our community.
"We hope this film goes some way to highlighting this, raising awareness and making a difference."
The advice for anyone who is experiencing abuse or neglect themselves, or who suspects someone else is being abused, is to try and contact someone they trust, such as a friend, family member, carer, doctor or nurse, a social worker or member of the police. This person would then make a safeguarding alert.
Anyone who does not have someone they can talk to should phone the special unit set up to handle safeguarding alerts on 0300 1234131.