Paris Hilton has become an unlikely social justice warrior.
The pop culture princess and hotel heiress is campaigning to have Provo Canyon School — the so-called emotional growth school she attended in 1999 — shut down in a new video posted to her YouTube channel on Monday.
“I was abused at Provo Canyon School,” says Hilton, clad in a sharp white blazer in front of a matching bright background. She added that she plans to “put all my effort into reforming the industry.”
Her call to shut down the school comes after the documentary “This is Paris” aired on YouTube. The film detailed Hilton’s life, and charted everything from her over-the-top personality and glitzy lifestyle to the time she spent in emotional growth schools, eventually leading her to team up with former classmates through #BreakingCodeSilence, a movement devoted to exposing the industry.
In her video, Hilton plugged a Change.org petition that is quickly approaching the 40,000 signature mark. She has also been pushing for reform on her Twitter.
“Programs can cost upward of $100k a year,” wrote one Twitter user in a post that Hilton retweeted, detailing the bait and switch that survivors believe befalls parents desperate to set their children straight. “It leads the child to feel shame, isolation, ptsd and destroyed relationships.”
For her part, Hilton claims that the 11 months she spent at Provo in Utah leading up to her 18th birthday caused her “trust issues,” “fear” and “anxiety,” and that she was forced to take prescription pills, placed in solitary confinement and beaten. The secluded school has denied responsibility for what Hilton and others allegedly experienced, citing a change in ownership in 2000. They said in a statement that the school does not “condone or promote any form of abuse.”
In an interview with Andy Cohen on SiriusXM, Hilton described her 11 months at Provo Canyon School as “a living hell” and added, “it definitely affected everything in my life, I think, from the character I created almost as a mask to hide behind and getting into abusive relationships.”
She promised to “seek legislation” to see tough-love institutions like Provo shuttered, and says in her video that closing Provo, “will be the domino effect we need to effect real change.”
In her spot with Cohen, the DJ showed no remorse when asked if the school has reacted to her calls for reform. “I’m sure they’re terrified,” she says.
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