Paris Hilton is opening up about a shocking experience of being psychologically abused and sexually assaulted while attending a boarding school. The New York Times published an interactive article detailing horrific systemic abuse that is occurring nationwide in children’s therapy programs. Hilton was one of the abused, and now she is coming forward to talk about it and push for reform.
Paris Hilton: Staff Woke Her Up in Middle of the Night, Sexually Assaulted Her
“I opened up in a @NYTimes video about something I’ve never discussed before,” Hilton tweeted. “At Provo Canyon School, I was woken up in the middle of the night by male staff who ushered me into a private room and performed cervical exams on me in the middle of the night.”
Provo Canyon School is a “therapeutic boarding school” in Utah. It was bought by Universal Health Services (UHS) in 2000.
Hilton continued, “Sleep-deprived & heavily medicated, I didn’t understand what was happening. I was forced to lie on a padded table, spread my legs & submit to cervical exams. I cried while they held me down & said, “No!” They just said, “Shut up. Be quiet. Stop struggling or you’ll go to Obs.
“This was a recurring experience not only for me but for other #survivors. I was violated & I am crying as I type this because no one, especially a child, should be sexually abused. My childhood was stolen from me & it kills me this is still happening to other innocent children.
“It’s important to open up about these painful moments so I can heal & help put an end to this abuse. Watch the @NYTimes video that shares my story & deeply disturbing information about Provo Canyon School’s owners Universal Health Services. Help me #ShutDownProvo #UHSTakeAction.”
Paris Hilton Alleges That She and Other Girls Were Violated Under Guise of a “Medical Exam”
In the New York Times video, Hilton talks about how staff members would wake her and other girls up in the middle of the night.
“They would take myself and other girls into this room and they would perform medical exams,” Hilton explained. “It wasn’t even with a doctor, it was with a couple different staff members, where they would have us lay on the table and put their fingers inside of us. I don’t know what they were doing, but it was definitely not a doctor.”
She said that she repressed her memories of the abuse for much of her life, but that recently she cannot stop thinking about it.
“It was really scary and something that I really had blocked out for many years, but it’s coming back all the time now and I think about it,” Hilton said, with tears. “Now, looking back as an adult, that was definitely sexual abuse.”
Punishment as “Therapy”
The NYT article, titled “Opinion: Can You Punish a Child’s Mental Health Problems Away?” gives explosive details. It documents the experiences of several former attendees of various programs and facilities. They include wilderness therapy programs, mental health facilities, boot camps, and therapeutic boarding schools. While not every facility is the same —some are worse than others — there seems to be a serious issue regarding the mistreatment of teenagers. For many, their experiences were likened to being imprisoned, and their treatment was similar to that of incarcerated inmates.
Many of these teens enter into programs because they have problems with substance abuse or suicidal thoughts or tendencies. But instead of receiving caring treatment, they can be physically, mentally, and emotionally abused.
Further, these facilities are making a huge profit and are largely understaffed. The lack of staffing, financial incentive (as much as $800 per child per day from subsidies), and lack of oversight are linked to a system of toxic abuse and mistreatment.
Jordan: Staff at a Texas Facility Psychologically Abused Her to the Point of Making Her Feel Increasingly Suicidal
In another video, a girl named Jordan described the abuse she endured after entering a Texas treatment program for mental health issues. She said that she was brought into a room and told to write an apology letter to her parents about being there. But she said that she was very confused because she and her parents were on good terms. They took away her privilege to go outside or sleep in her own bed until she wrote the apology letter.
Eventually, Jordan broke down sobbing into her clothes. The staff threatened to get a doctor’s note to forcibly remove all her clothes if she didn’t stop crying. Jordan described herself as a nonviolent person. But she said eventually she completely broke down and started banging her head against the wall until it was bleeding and bruised. The facility responded by blasting Christian music at full volume to drown out the noise of her head. She said the entire experience made her feel more suicidal than before.
Jaxtyn: Staff at a UHS Facility Isolated Him in a Room Contaminated with Biohazards
Jaxtyn is a trans man who spoke about his abuse at a UHS facility in Utah. He was tackled, forcibly drugged, and put into isolation. The room he was kept in was contaminated with blood and feces. He said that male staff used scissors to cut away all his clothing. Then they injected a sedating drug called Haldol into his butt and left him there for hours, shivering. He said he didn’t want to sit on the floor because of the remnants of biohazardous material that had not been cleaned from other people kept in the cell before him. Jaxtyn added that, because he was born with female anatomy, there was an extra layer of discomfort due to the way the male staff were treating him.
Speaking Out for Reform and How You Can Help
The Times reports that UHS was the subject of a federal investigation in 2020 and eventually paid a $117 million settlement while denying claims of neglect. The Times maintains that UHS and other similar facilities and programs have managed to avoid federal oversight or monitoring of standards.
Paris Hilton, Jordan, and Jaxtyn are some of the many who are now coming out to talk about their experiences. They are bravely coming forward so that these things are brought to light and never happen again.
If you are interested in becoming involved in the reform movement, Unsilenced.org has many resources. The organization’s website documents survivors’ stories and has archived claims of abuse and other news along with an interactive map to search by geographic region.