Yesterday, Paris Hilton spoke passionately to a state congressional committee in Utah in support of a bill that would enact stricter regulations on private institutions like the Provo Canyon School, where she herself endured years of abuse as a teen by the facility’s staff.
Watch her emotional testimony below.
Takeaway messages from her speech:
“I am an institutional abuse survivor and I speak today on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of children currently in residential care facilities across the United States,” Hilton, 39, said in her testimony to the Utah Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee. “For the past 20 years, I have had a recurring nightmare where I’m kidnapped in the middle of the night by two strangers, strip-searched and locked in a facility. I wish I could tell you that this haunting nightmare was just a dream, but it is not.”
“Talking about something so personal was and is still terrifying,” Hilton told the committee. “But I can not go to sleep at night knowing that there are children that are experiencing the same abuse that I and so many others went through, and neither should you.”
“I am proof that money doesn’t protect against abuse,” Hilton told Utah lawmakers. “The state of Utah must monitor the companies taking exorbitant amounts of money from desperate people and taxpayers. People are profiting off of the abuse of children. This is not right. This is so wrong.”
“I tell my story not so that anyone feels bad for me,” Hilton said. “But to shine a light on the reality of what happened then, and is still happening now.”
Even though “Utah is supposedly built on family values,” Hilton said, the “neglect” by the state failing to regulate these facilities has “brought us here today.”
“This is just the first step,” she said, noting she’s lobbying for regulations to span nationwide. “There is obviously more work to do and I’m not going to stop until change happens.”
Hilton said she decided to come out with her story last year because she “couldn’t sleep at night knowing” other children were suffering.
“Now that we have the entire world looking upon this there’s no way that they’re going to get away with this anymore,” she said. “A child should not go into a place and come out with more issues than what they came in with.”