Paris Hilton – you might know her for being America’s most glamorous media personality or the granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, the founder of Hiltons Hotels. But there is more than meets the eye. Portrayed as a socialite full of life and opportunities, she breaks silence about her boarding school trauma, bravely exposing the vulnerability that most celebrities remain hidden.
Hilton was sent to Provo Canyon Boarding school (Utah) at 17 by her parents Ricky and Kathy, as a last resort after Hilton’s teenage behaviour became unmanageable. The boarding school opened in 1971, initially devised to encourage youth’s mental health and academic needs, a ‘safe haven’ to keep youths on the correct path, but this was far from how Paris experienced it, quoting “The goal was to break you down”.
In an exclusive interview with People Magazine, Hilton describes the 11 months there as “Torture”, heartbreakingly discussing the physical and verbal abuse she endured daily. She details her ordeal, claiming “They were physically abusive, hitting and strangling us” and was victim to being held in solitary confinement up to 20 hours a day as punishment. After prolonged abuse took its toll, she attempted to contact her parents for help, but that came at a price. Staff members would abuse their power by ripping up letters to their parents and instead belittling their worth. ‘No-one is going to believe you’.
Student survivor *Jen Robinson* confirmed Hilton’s claims and as a former editor and producer for the campaign Breaking code silence, she is determined to raise awareness for institutional abuse. She describes her ordeal as a troubled past that continues to follow her, explaining “I’m realising more and more that I’m confronted with it every day”. A year after Hilton attended, Robinson recalls being strip-searched and having her head shaven accompanied by a number that she was defined as.
As a result of ongoing trauma and a secret kept hidden for more than 20 years, Hilton’s Mental Health had deteriorated, and she claims to continue to have nightmares about the trauma. Despite this, after finally opening up upon filming her new documentary This Is Paris, she says “It feels like my nightmare is finally over”. She is not seeking legal action against Provo Canyon and wants to continue her focus on raising awareness and holding the facilities accountable for their actions.
‘I want to be a voice for children and now adults everywhere who have had similar experiences. I want it to stop for good, and I will do whatever I can to make it happen.” -Paris Hilton.
#Breaking code silences. You are not alone.