Paris Hilton Is Speaking Out About Physical Abuse at Her Boarding School
"I felt like a prisoner, and I hated life."
Trigger warning: This story discusses emotional and physical abuse.
Paris Hilton's upcoming documentary, This Is Paris, will show a different side than her 2003 reality show The Simple Life. In the new documentary, premiering September 14th on YouTube, Hilton shares that she was abused as a teen while at a boarding school in Utah. In an interview with People, the entrepreneur and reality star opened up about the mental, emotional, and physical pain she endured at Provo Canyon School in the late '90s.
Provo Canyon School was the last of a series of boarding schools that Hilton's parents sent her to as a response to the partying lifestyle she had taken on as a teen. As People reports, the school claimed to focus on behavioral and mental development, but the reality was much darker than that.
“It was supposed to be a school, but [classes] were not the focus at all,” Hilton said. “From the moment I woke up until I went to bed, it was all day screaming in my face, yelling at me, continuous torture.”
She continued: “The staff would say terrible things. They were constantly making me feel bad about myself and bully me. I think it was their goal to break us down. And they were physically abusive, hitting and strangling us. They wanted to instill fear in the kids so we’d be too scared to disobey them.”
Three of Hilton's former classmates make appearances in the documentary, corroborating her story and making allegations of their own against the boarding school. Horror stories from the classmates include anecdotes of being force-fed medication and held down by restraints, People reports. Hilton says she was also placed in solitary confinement after one of her classmates told staff about her plans to run away.
Unsurprisingly, the trauma of the abuse took a toll on Hilton's mental health. “I was having panic attacks and crying every single day,” says Hilton. “I was just so miserable. I felt like a prisoner and I hated life."
The school allegedly kept the students isolated from the outside world, limiting their communication with loved ones, Hilton explained.
“I didn’t really get to speak to my family—maybe once every two or three months," Hilton said. "We were cut off from the outside world. And when I tried to tell them once, I got in so much trouble I was scared to say it again. They would grab the phone or rip up letters I wrote telling me, ‘No one is going to believe you.’ And the staff would tell the parents that the kids were lying. So my parents had no idea what was going on.”
Once she turned 18 in 1999, Hilton left the school and went back to New York, but she stayed silent about her experience. "I was so grateful to be out of there, I didn’t even want to bring it up again,” says Hilton. “It was just something I was ashamed of and I didn’t want to speak of it.”
But now, Hilton is ready to share her story with the world and shed light on the painful experiences she endured away from the paparazzi.
“I buried my truth for so long,” Hilton said. “But I’m proud of the strong woman I’ve become. People might assume everything in my life came easy to me, but I want to show the world who I truly am.”