Until Someone Listens (1998)

The Ontario Training School for Girls was opened in Cambridge (then Galt), Ontario in 1933. It was renamed The Grandview Training School in 1967 and was closed in 1976. Until Someone Listens is a documentary about women dealing with their experiences of institutional abuse while incarcerated there.

Grandview was an institution for girls between the ages of 12 and 18, although some inmates were as young as 10. Girls were remanded there by court order. Most had not violated any law, but rather were sent to Grandview by Provincial Family Court judges who found them to be unmanageable, incorrigible, and/or truant. Sentences were indeterminate, and detention periods were left to the discretion of the Grandview staff. The average stay in Galt/Grandview was from four to twelve months, although some girls were kept there for four years.

Until Someone Listens documents the healing process of the Grandview survivors. It enters the lives of a representative group of women and chronicles their experiences in the passage from trauma to recovery. Their contributions provide insight to those who have had similar experiences, and to professional staff who work with abused women and children.

The documentary’s purpose is to promote individual and collective healing and to increase community awareness of institutional abuse. As well, it challenges community stereotypes about abuse and recovery. The Grandview survivors themselves hope that their experiences can be instrumental in the prevention of hurt and abuse to other children.

Each documentary chapter features a Grandview survivor who was selected because her experience reflects particular steps or a different point on the path towards healing. Each survivor shares with us the healing path that she has chosen. While some have barely begun, others are ready to move on. Some have been shattered; others struggle daily to hold their lives together; many long to be free from the traumatic experience - each is represented here.

The women make it clear that there are many effective ways to deal with the consequences of institutional abuse. Although Grandview girls experienced similar sexual, physical and emotional abuse, each developed her own survival skills and often shared her skills with others. Many benefit from the support of others - therapists, family, intimate friends, and partners. Others have chosen more solitary journeys.

Seen as a whole, Until Someone Listens helps audiences explore the many facets of institutionalized brutality and abuse, and the ways it affects inmates, survivors, staff, families and communities. The film can be viewed (and used) either chapter by chapter or in its complete length. A user guide is available on request.

Commissioning Partner: The Grandview Survivors Support Group