After opening up about the experience in her recent documentary, the reality star returned to the Utah institution with other survivors, to demand an end to child abuse
Last month, Paris Hilton released a documentary, titled This is Paris, in which she opened up about the “heartbreaking trauma” of her past. The reality star alleges that during her time at ‘troubled teen’ school Provo Canyon, she suffered mental and physical abuse by staff, who she says beat her, kept her in solitary confinement, watched her shower, and forced her to take unidentified pills.
On Friday (October 9), Hilton was joined by hundreds of other survivors – from both Provo Canyon and similar schools – in staging a protest outside the Utah institution. The demonstration was organised by Breaking Code Silence, an organisation calling for reform of the so-called ‘troubled teen industry’.
In videos shared on social media, protesters can be seen marching silently – to signify how the schools silenced their victims – while holding signs that read, ‘Kids over profit’, ‘Shut down Provo’, and wearing t-shirts emblazoned with ‘survivor’.
In a statement shared on Instagram, Hilton said: “Yesterday was one of the most empowering moments of my life! Returning to the place that has haunted my nightmares since I was a teen. Being there surrounded by hundreds of other survivors who have all endured the same pain and abuses that I have. Showing our abusers that we will no longer be silent, and expose them for all the evil, terrible things that they have done.”
As reported by The Guardian, former students of Provo Canyon claim they were strip-searched by staff, physically and chemically restrained, and locked into isolation rooms. Hilton was sent to the school at the age of 17 after her parents reportedly became tired of her sneaking out to party in New York.
In an interview with Good Morning America, Hilton claimed: “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 staff would say terrible things. They wanted to instill fear in the kids so we’d be too scared to disobey them.”
Paris Jackson and Kat Von D have also spoken out about the abuse they suffered at Provo Canyon. In a video shared on Instagram, Von D described her time at the school as “the most traumatic six months of my life”. The tattoo artist alleges that staff strip-searched her, shaved her head, and told her she had contracted HIV from tattooing – a lie which aimed to stop her practicing the art.
In a statement issued in the wake of the allegations, Provo Canyon said it does “not condone or promote any form of abuse”. It added: “Any and all alleged/suspected abuse is reported immediately to our state regulatory authorities, law enforcement, and child protective services. We are committed to providing high-quality care to youth with special, and often complex, emotional, behavioral, and psychiatric needs.” The school also said it was “concerned that the current media coverage may increase the stigma around seeking help for behavioral health concerns”.
As well as leading Friday’s protest, Hilton has launched a petition demanding Provo Canyon is shut down “to ensure the safety of the children at this school now and prevent future generations of survivors”. You can sign the petition here.
Watch Paris Hilton’s documentary, This is Paris, on YouTube above.