Paris Hilton explained why she opened up about her experience at Utah's Provo Canyon School, where she faced emotional and physical abuse as a teen, despite "never planning on telling that story."
The 41-year-old made an appearance on the Australian news program The Project where she talked about working with the Irwin family on a project involving the Australia Zoo. Aside from contributing her fame to a commercial about wildlife, however, Hilton shared her experience of becoming an advocate for children suffering abuse.
"I couldn't sleep at night knowing that this was still happening and I knew that I needed to use my voice," Hilton said of sharing her story in the This is Paris documentary. "I thought to myself, maybe God made me go through this and gave me this gift so one day I could be the one to save these children."
In the YouTube documentary, which was released in 2020, Hilton spoke of the abuse that she suffered in an effort to shine a light on what numerous teens endure at congregate care facilities. Although she admitted it was "so painful to talk about," she expressed validation in the incredible work that her story has led to.
"It's made such change and I've changed laws and now taking this to a federal level. So I just feel proud of the woman I am and what I've been through and how strong I am," she said of testifying in front of lawmakers to create reform within these facilities. "I feel that this is now my legacy and something that is my mission in life and something that really has deep meaning and that I’m going to continue fighting until change is made."
While Hilton said that her latest work has changed the trajectory of her life, she acknowledged that she's long been misunderstood as a result of her public persona. "I've just played that character from The Simple Life for so long in the public eye," she said. "I always love being underestimated because I love proving people wrong and I’m not a dumb blonde, I'm just very good at pretending to be one."
And even though the original influencer and reality TV star remains to be a bright light on the internet, she said she will forever carry the harsh reality of what she's been through.
"They're so abusive, verbally, mentally, physically where it's affected me in so many ways in my life or it's hard for me to trust people or open up," she said of the treatment she encountered at congregate care facilities. "I've had severe PTSD and nightmares. It's something that I've thought about every day and will probably the rest of my life. And even though I'm healing and talking about it and helping others, it's something that I think will stick with you forever cause it's impossible to forget."
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