On Saturday, Paris spoke exclusively to People about the experience, which she elaborates on in her Sept. 14 YouTube documentary This Is Paris. “I buried my truth for so long,” Hilton told the outlet. “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.”
According to Paris, parents Kathy and Rick Hilton sent their daughter, then 17, to Provo Canyon School in Springville, which “has a deep history in helping youths meet mental health and academic needs,” the website description reads. Back then, Paris would sneak out of her New York City home to attend clubs and parties, and nothing her parents tried changed her behavior.
“It was supposed to be a school, but [classes] were not the focus at all,” Paris told People. “From the moment I woke up until I went to bed, it was all day screaming in my face, yelling at me, continuous torture.”
The perfume mogul told People she was berated on a daily basis. “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.” Paris said after a classmate told administrators that she planned to escape, she was held in solitary confinement.
“I was having panic attacks and crying every single day,” she said. “I was just so miserable. I felt like a prisoner and I hated life.” She tried contacting her parents but staff blocked the communication. “They would grab the phone or rip up letters I wrote telling me, ‘No one is going to believe you,’” she said. “And the staff would tell the parents that the kids were lying. So my parents had no idea what was going on.” Paris left the school after 11 months.
In the trailer for This Is Paris, the star says, “Something happened in my childhood that I’ve never talked about with anyone…I still have nightmares about it.” She cultivated her carefree persona and “That’s hot” saying on her reality show The Simple Life to cover he pain.
When asked for comment, the school told People, “Originally opened in 1971, Provo Canyon School was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000. We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to this time.”
In a July promotion for the documentary, Paris admitted she was “nervous” and “shaking” to publicly open up about her past.