Thursday, July 25, 2024
Paris Hilton recounts child abuse in congressional testimony

Paris Hilton recounts child abuse in congressional testimony


Paris Hilton recounted her experiences of institutional child abuse before the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, as she urged Congress to better support children in foster care.

“When I was 16 years old, I was ripped from my bed in the middle of the night and transported across state lines to the first of four youth residential treatment facilities. These programs promised healing, growth and support but instead did not allow me to speak, move freely or even look out a window for two years,” she said at the committee hearing on child welfare.

Media personality Paris Hilton testified on June 26 in a House Ways and Means committee hearing on institutional child abuse. (Video: Reuters)

“I was force-fed medications and sexually abused by the staff. I was violently restrained and dragged down hallways, stripped naked and thrown into solitary confinement,” she continued. “My parents were completely deceived, lied to and manipulated by this for-profit industry about the inhumane treatment I was experiencing.”

The 43-year-old media personality’s statement was her latest push for change in what’s often called the “troubled teen” system, a largely unregulated multibillion-dollar industry that includes youth residential facilities. In recent years, the socialite has been testifying in state capitols and in D.C. in support of legislation that’s meant to better protect children and bring more oversight to the programs.

In the 2020 YouTube documentary “This Is Paris,” Hilton accused school staff members of abusing her. She soon after led a protest calling for the shutdown of Provo Canyon School, a Utah boarding school she attended and called “the worst of the worst.”

In a 2021 op-ed in The Washington Post, she detailed “physical and psychological abuse” that she said she endured from staff at all four youth facilities she attended, explaining that she was “choked, slapped across the face, spied on while showering and deprived of sleep.”

Hilton later said she was sexually abused at Provo Canyon School in a 2022 New York Times video. In the short clip, Hilton, her eyes welling up with tears, recounted how staff members without medical credentials would perform what she was told were “medical exams” on her and other teenage girls in the early-morning hours: “They would have us lay on the table and put their fingers inside of us,” she said.

Hilton rose to fame as a socialite and shot to stardom alongside her friend Nicole Richie in the reality series “The Simple Life.” In addition to her activism, she’s known as an entrepreneur, influencer, podcaster and DJ.

Before Hilton closed her statement with a call to action for Congress, she sent a message to children in foster care.

“If you are a child in the system, hear my words: I see you. I believe you. I know what you’re going through, and I won’t give up on you,” she said. “You are important, your future is important, and you deserve every opportunity to be safe and supported.”

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