Paris Hilton is on a mission to expose — and shut down — institutions that administer cruel psychiatric treatment to minors.
Last month, the star debuted her YouTube Originals documentary This Is Paris, a nearly two-hour film helmed by Emmy-winning director Alexandra Dean. In the movie, Hilton goes into detail about alleged abuse she suffered at a boarding school in Utah and how her trauma has carried over into adulthood.
During an appearance on Good Morning America on Friday, Hilton, 39, revealed that she’s planning an in-person protest against the school.
“Today we are going to be going to Utah with hundreds of other survivors,” she said. “When I was there, I was physically, psychologically, emotionally abused on a daily basis, so I’m using my platform to make a difference so this doesn’t happen to any other children.”
In her documentary, Hilton recalls being taken from her bed as if she was being kidnapped one night. She ended up at Provo Canyon School in Utah, where she says she and her peers suffered physical and emotional abuse and were regularly given mystery pills. When she refused to take them, she says she was sent to solitary confinement without clothing, sometimes for 20 hours at a time.
In a statement to PEOPLE in August, and also on its website, the school noted that it changed ownership in August 2000, after Hilton was a student. “We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to that time,” the statement read.
In a second and more lengthy statement issued on Sep. 17, after the release of the documentary, the school said staff does not use “‘solitary confinement’ as a form of intervention” or prescribe “any drug or medication as a means of discipline.”
“We do not condone or promote any form of abuse,” the statement continued. “Any and all alleged/suspected abuse is reported immediately to our state regulatory authorities, law enforcement and Child Protective Services, as required. We are committed to providing high-quality care to youth with special, and often complex, emotional, behavioral and psychiatric needs.”
Hilton has started a petition to shut down the school, which as of Friday had amassed over 125,000 signatures. Earlier this month, Kat Von D publicly thanked Hilton for giving her the courage to speak out about her own “traumatic” experience at Provo Canyon School. The tattoo artist said she was 15 when she was sent to the “torturous” school, where she was “locked up for half a year, without ever seeing the sun.”
Paris Jackson has also spoken out, revealing that she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after attending a similar school.
“The [outpouring] of love and support has just been incredible,” Hilton said on GMA. “I feel so proud to have finally told my truth and my story, and the fact that it’s had such an impact and has now started this movement, it’s going to make real change.”
Since coming forward in her documentary, Hilton said her recurring nightmares about the trauma have stopped, which is “an incredible feeling.” She’s also been pouring her pain into her music and recently recorded a new song called “I Blame You,” of which 100 percent of the proceeds are going towards her #BreakingCodeSilence movement.
“I feel like I’ve done big things in life, but this is the most important and this is going to be my legacy,” she said. “I’m not going to stop for however long it takes until the abuse in this industry stops.”
If you or someone you know need mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.