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Paris Hilton: ‘I was sexually harassed at school’

At the age of 17, the blonde heiress was sent by her parents to a boarding school in Utah specialising in the re-education of boys with psychiatric or behavioural disorders. Here she was 'sexually abused'. An experience she tried to remove and today she has finally found the courage to tell the New York Times. To make sure it never happens again.

Paris Hilton was sexually harassed at school. It was she herself who denounced it speaking to the New York Times. 'When I was at the Provo Canyon School in Utah, I was forcibly subjected to medical examinations by staff,' the heiress recounted, pointing out: "Non-medical staff".

"One night, it was very late about 3 or 4 a.m., I and other girls were taken from our rooms and taken to another private room where a couple of staff men subjected us to a 'cervical examination', so we were told. They made me lie down on a couch and stuck their fingers inside me,"'she said in the video interview in a trembling voice. "I don't know why they did it, but they were not doctors, I know that for sure. It was scary, I was terrified, this thing blocked me for years," she added, explaining that even today, the trauma suffered periodically recurs. "Sometimes the memory of what happened suddenly assails me and I think about it. Now looking at those events with the eyes of an adult, I can definitely call it sexual abuse."

The Provo Canyon School is a private institution where children with behavioural disorders or psychiatric problems are cared for, instructed and educated 'in accordance with their academic and therapeutic needs', as the website states. Paris Hilton was sent there at the age of 17 by her parents, Rick and Kathy Hilton, who, after taking away her credit cards and trying the punishment route in vain, hoped to curb her teenage rebellion by sending her to a boarding school where she would be treated as a girl with behavioural disorders. She stayed there for 11 months before returning home to New York: an experience that marked her forever.

"It was supposed to be a school but classes were the last thing on our minds. From the moment we got up in the morning to the moment we went to bed at night, it was all yelling, screaming, scolding… a continuous torture for me," the 41-year-old entrepreneur had already recounted in her documentary This is Paris, released in 2020. It is not the first time that Hilton has recounted the suffering she experienced within those walls, although she has never said that she herself had undergone forced medical treatment. 

'I had panic attacks, I was screaming every single day. I felt terrible, I felt like I was in prison," she revealed in the documentary. When she left the school Paris Hilton was 18 years old, and for years she did not have the strength to speak openly about what happened within those walls. "I was just grateful to be out of it, I was ashamed of what had happened and I didn't want to remember or talk about it."

Today, however, she has turned her experience into a social commitment and is fighting for more control, also at an institutional level, over centres like the one she attended, and for the abuse of teenagers in those kinds of schools to be stopped for good.

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