[Only IN Hollywood] Paris Hilton talks about teen abuse, trauma from the sex tape, and wedding plans

“I don't think it's something I'll ever get over fully,” Paris Hilton said about the physical, mental and emotional abuse she said she experienced as a teenager in a boarding school she attended.

In her new YouTube documentary, This is Paris, the reality star, heiress and entrepreneur opened up for the first time about the torture she said she went though at the Provo Canyon School in Utah.

“To actually discuss it for the first time, which I did during my documentary (filming), was a very therapeutic experience,” said Paris. “Just going through that (school) was one of the most difficult times of my life. It was like living in hell every single day. The people who worked at these places were very abusive and just not good people.

Still courtesy of YouTube Originals

“I've had nightmares ever since I was a teenager. I have something that has affected my life in so many ways. But it has made me strong. I could make it through anything after going through all of that.”

The great granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton Hotels, claimed in the documentary and in interviews that the boarding school staff physically hurt her and some classmates (they were “hitting and strangling us”), constantly screamed and bullied them, were locked in solitary confinement, and force-fed medication and held down by restraints.

A note in red text on top of Provo Canyon School’s homepage declared: “We are aware of a new documentary referencing Provo Canyon School (PCS). Please note that PCS was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000. We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to that time. We are committed to providing high-quality care to youth with special, and often complex, emotional, behavioral and psychiatric needs.”

On whether Paris sought professional help for the trauma she said she underwent in the school, the last in a series of boarding schools she went to in the 90s, the influencer said no.

She explained that it was therapeutic “by doing my film and releasing all those emotions and speaking about it, and now with this movement with breaking code silence and actually making a difference. I've already received letters from people who are pulling their children out of (Provo) Canyon School, because they saw the trailer."

“So the fact that it's already making a difference and helping save children is such an incredible feeling. I feel that even though I went through such a terrible and painful time, I could use that to help others so they don't have to go through the same thing.”

The socialite with a global empire clarified that she originally did not intend to talk about the torture she claimed she experienced in the Utah school. “When we got the director, Alexandra Dean, I had just watched her movie Bombshell, the documentary about Hedy Lamarr. I was just blown away, so impressed. So that’s when I said yes. The film was only supposed to be about me as a businesswoman, my family and basically the glamour in front of it all.

“I never thought that I would ever reveal my secrets and the traumatic experiences I went through. I never talked about it with anyone. I was definitely not planning on saying it on camera in front of the world.  But I ended up telling Alexandra. I am happy I did because it is really an amazing feeling to finally let that off my chest.”

Being in love with businessman Carter Reum, who may finally be “the one” after a series of failed relationships, also inspired her to open up. They have been dating since November last year.

“I never talked to a therapist because after what I went through, it made me not trust them (therapists) at all,” she confided in this video call. “So it was a process. But when my boyfriend and I reconnected on Thanksgiving, it felt like fate and it was meant to be. That’s how I opened myself up, which I had never done ever since I was a teenager. What I went through, I never let anyone in.  But I felt that he was the one, so I did it on my own. It happened naturally.”

Asked if she feels that This is Paris, which debuted on YouTube last September 14, could have covered more on how hurt she was by the leak online, without her consent, of the sex tape of her and then-boyfriend Rick Salomon in 2003, Paris answered, “No, I thought that we had (already) discussed so much. We didn’t really go there that much.  That (sex tape being leaked) was just the most painful experience. Obviously, I have been through pain."

“If you watch this movie, you can see that I have been through a lot. But that (sex tape being leaked) made me really lose faith in love, trust and men. It really breaks my heart that for the rest of my life, I’m going to be judged on a private moment between two people that no one was ever supposed to see. It pissed me off."

“And the way I was treated when this (sex tape) came out, people were so mean about me, making fun of me and villainizing me when I was just this young girl who had trusted somebody.  If this happened today, it would be so different. I am happy that things have changed where a woman is not going to be shamed for something like that. She is the victim but back then, I was not lucky enough to be treated that way.”

The eldest of four siblings (sister Nicky, brothers Barron and Conrad Hughes) said about her parents, Richard and Kathy: “My parents were always super strict. I was not allowed to go on dates. I can't go to a school dance. I wasn't allowed to wear make-up.  I wasn't allowed basically to go anywhere. When we moved to New York (in 1996), I rebelled. I was going out at night and ditching class. I wasn't a bad kid.  I was so sheltered and then to move to New York City, it was this whole new world."

“I was excited to be able to go places but my parents were not used to that because I had been so sheltered. I was like their little girl. They were scared to watch me grow up."

“It wasn't their fault. They didn't know what these places were. They thought it was a normal boarding school because that's how they advertise these places. They act like it's this really happy place where your kids are going to go and they're going to be perfect when they come out."

“But a lot of these parents don't know what is actually happening in these places. After experiencing it, I would not recommend for anyone to send their children to anything like that.  It's more important to talk to them, try to work it out on a one to one level with the parents and the children and try to figure something out."

“Rather than trying to fix the problem by sending them somewhere. If you don't do the research, it's going to cause so many more issues.”

Speaking of her parents, Paris said, “I am right now in my mom and dad's house in Bel Air. It's my grandfather's house. I am moving back into my Mulholland Estates house. It's being renovated right now but I move back in two days.” She also has a home in New York.

The woman, who said in the new documentary that she has “never been photographed in the same thing twice,” looked sedate in a black outfit. Paris said that otherwise, in these pandemic times, she usually only wears “my Juicy Couture velour tracksuits, which I love. I have every single color and I have an entire closetful. With socks and no make-up, my hair in two little buns.”

It’s a look that Carter likes. “I have never felt so happy in my life,” Paris gushed about her entrepreneur boyfriend. “I didn’t even know it was possible to feel like this because I have never really let love in because of what happened to me. Everything happens at the perfect and the right time.  We had been friends for 15 years. Then on Thanksgiving, his sister invited my family and me over to their house."

“We had this amazing chemistry. Ever since then, we have been inseparable. We haven’t spent a night apart. We are so in love. He is perfect for me in every way. He’s brilliant, kind, funny, romantic, loyal. He’s everything I ever wanted.  I just feel so lucky that I found him because if I didn’t find him, I think I would be alone forever because I don’t trust anyone. It’s so hard for me.”

At 39, the woman who admitted being paid to party even before she turned 21 seems ready to settle down. “I cannot wait to have a family. I finally found the perfect match, my perfect partner. The meaning of life is having children and a family. So I cannot wait for that day. It will be soon.”

Paris confirmed that she decided to freeze her eggs for just-in-case. “It's great to be able to have that to be in control (over her fertility). So you don't have to worry about finding someone. But I'm so blessed that I found my perfect person. So, ready to go.”

Often ridiculed for being a “dumb blonde” and a “professional socialite,” especially in her The Simple Life reality days with Nicole Richie, Paris cultivated that faux ditziness, including that baby doll voice. Branded as “famous for being famous,” Paris is actually smart. She’s a shrewd businesswoman with 19 products lines, 50 boutiques and even a resort bearing her name in the Philippines – Azure Beach Club Paris Hilton in Parañaque.

“I finally do actually know who I am,” Paris asserted. “Before, I didn't. I was lost and having to play this character for so long, always being on camera and constantly being on. You almost get lost in it where you forget who you are, which is weird to say, but that's what happened.”

The “spoiled rich girl” is gracious and polite in our previous in-person interviews and in this recent Zoom interview as well. She said, “A lot of people – if they don't know me, or haven't met me – have so many preconceived notions or misconceptions about me because how the media has chosen to portray me over the years has never really been a representation of who I am as a person.”

She weeded out her clique. “I had so many people that I was acquaintances with who I had in my circle and who didn't have the right intention. They were using me. They were not trustworthy people. So I've cut out a lot of people in my life and now only surround myself with positive energy and good people who love me for me and no reason else.”

Will we see one of the first media-dubbed “celebutantes” finally become a bride? “When I was a little girl, I had dreams of this big fairytale wedding,” Paris replied with a beaming smile. “But with the pandemic and everything happening, it's a new world. Events (big weddings) like that are not going to be possible so even though I would have loved to have a giant, huge celebration, because of this (pandemic), I am not going to be able to.

“It will maybe more intimate, small and with my family. But, yeah, I can't wait for that day.  It's been a day I've been dreaming about my whole life. Now that I've found my Prince Charming, I can't wait.”

And will it be in LA or some exotic setting? “I don't know,” she answered. “We've been talking about that.  I just don't know where we would want to do it, whether it would be like a destination or LA because it's home. I am trying to decide on that as well.”

But wait, is she officially engaged to Carter? “Not yet!” she quipped with a laugh.

Looking back, she reflected that being Paris Hilton, an heiress, was farthest from her mind when she was enduring all those challenges, especially when she was trying to survive in that boarding school.

“I never really thought about any of that before because I was so focused on things that have happened to me that were traumatic,” she said firmly. “But now, within the past year, I have been saying to myself, Paris, look what you've been through, you're so strong. Not many people could make it through so many experiences like that and end up in a good place. So I feel really proud of the woman that I am and the person that I have become.”

And who is that person she has evolved into? “I am all grown up, kind, smart. I have a big heart. I'm ready to show the world who I really am, finally.” – Rappler.com

Ruben V. Nepales

Ruben V. Nepales is an award-winning journalist whose honors include prizes from the National Entertainment Journalism Awards, a U.S.-wide competition, and the Southern California Journalism Awards, presented by the Los Angeles Press Club.