Paris Hilton's Documentary Bombshells: Abuse, Family Secrets and More Revelations

This Is Paris, which premieres on YouTube today, Sept. 14, shed a whole new light on The Simple Life star.

By Tierney Bricker Sep 14, 2020 4:56 PMTags
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"My mom wanted me to be a Hilton. And I just wanted to be Paris."

And in her new documentary, Paris Hilton is just that: herself.

For the YouTube Originals documentary This Is Paris, which is out now, the 39-year-old DJ and businesswoman opened up for the first time about her childhood trauma, the secret abuse she said she suffered both at the Utah boarding school she went to as a teenager and in her romantic relationships, and her infamous sex tape scandal from nearly 20 years ago. 

"Something happened in my childhood that I never talked about with anyone," Paris explained in the opening scene of the movie. "I still have nightmares about it. I wish I could bring, like, a camera into my dreams, and, like, show you what it's like. It's terrifying. And I relive that every night. I experienced it and to this day I am still traumatized and I think the only way to have these nightmares stop is to do something about it."

Paris Hilton's Romantic History

And that's what she's doing in This Is Paris, talking about the experiences she went through in her boarding schools and in Hollywood, with her mother Kathy Hilton and sister Nicky Hilton Rothschild also offering insight into the world's original influencer.

Here are the biggest bombshells we learned from the new documentary, beginning with the revelation about the alleged abuse she endured at Provo Canyon School in Utah as a teen...

Boarding School Abuse

The biggest revelation is Paris alleging she suffered abuse—including strangulation, being locked in rooms and screamed at—while attending Provo Canyon School when she was a teenager.

"I feel like a lot of the people who worked there got off on torturing children and seeing them naked," she said. "They would prescribe everyone all these pills. I didn't know what they were giving me. I would just feel so tired and numb."

When Paris eventually stopped taking the pills, she said she was caught hiding them and severely punished by being put into solitary confinement. 

"They would make people take their clothes off and go in there for like 20 hours," she alleged. "I felt like I was going crazy. Someone was in the other room, there was like, a straitjacket…I was just freezing. I was starving. I was alone. I was scared."

After almost a year at Provo, Paris finally returned to New York, but was "traumatized" and never told her family about what she endured.

"I think all my anger just went into my drive for success," she explained. "It made me strong but when I think about it, it gives me anxiety. It was really f—king hard."

In a statement to E! News, Provost Canyon School said, "Originally opened in 1971, Provo Canyon School was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000. We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to this time."

Telling the Truth

After meeting with fellow survivors and her friends from her Provo days, Paris decided to finally reveal the extent of her experience at the school to her mother.

"They were constantly being abusive in every way," she shared with a shell-shocked Kathy, who later began to cry. "But I couldn't tell you guys because every time I tried I got punished by them or they would say, 'We're just going to tell your parents you're a liar and they're not going to believe you.' Basically they just told me that so many different times that I was afraid to even say anything or bring it up."

Paris also addressed finally speaking out publicly, explaining why she waited. 

"I wanted to do something, but at the same time I didn't want to hurt my brand," she said. "I can't have this be part of my business, and people won't understand. But if I don't do this it's going to continue to happen and I'm going to continue being traumatized and think about it the rest of my life."

Her Daring Escapes

Though she remained at Provo, "the worst of the worst" schools she was sent to, for 11 months, Paris had already run away from several of the places she was sent beforehand, including an outdoor wilderness program.

"We ran through corn fields, through mountains, the guys that worked at the camp grabbed us, and we got back and they literally beat the hell out of us in front of everyone," she alleged of the first time she escaped. 

And when she left another"emotional growth" place she was sent to—which Paris described as "hell"—Nicky remembered, "They shut down highways, they shut down airports" in attempts to find her. 

Her Teenage Rebellion

Before being sent away to the schools where she alleged she suffered abuse, Paris became "addicted to the nightlife" when her family moved to New York City when she was in high school. 

"I felt accepted," she explained. "I just felt like the queen of the night. That's where I really became Paris."

But her parents weren't accepting of this behavior—"She was very naughty," Nicky admitted—and they reached a breaking point. 

"Finally, I locked her in the room," Kathy recalled. "I was afraid she could run into a predator, get kidnapped. Fear, to me, is the most powerful feeling there is. More than pain, more than love, more than hate, more than light, fear. And I thought this was the worst mistake ever, moving here. I gotta get her out of here."

And that was when they decided to send her away, with Paris explaining how she was made to feel "hidden" by her status-obsessed family. 

"I feel like my parents were scared and they didn't want their reputations to be ruined because Page Six was writing all these stories.

Abusive Relationships

Toward the end of the film, Paris opened up about the way she was treated by some of her previous boyfriends, alleging she had been physically, emotionally and verbally abused by "five" men. 

"I've been in a lot of relationships where people get so controlling and get so angry that they become physical," she revealed, going on to address the shocking photos of her from 2004 in which she has bruises, a bloodied lip and what appeared like swelling under her eye. 

"We just got in an argument," she recalled of the incident. "I was trying to leave his house and he just got really mad and was just grabbing me and pulling me. I don't really remember most of it because I've had worse stuff happen."

She continued, "I've been strangled, phones thrown at me, computers, and I accepted it because I almost thought it was so normal. Like, he loves me so much that he's going this crazy. I just wanted so bad that I was willing to accept being hit or yelled at or screamed at or strangled…a lot of things."

Paris believed her time at Provo caused her to not "even know what love is or how to have a relationship."

The Sex Tape

It's been almost two decades since the home video of Paris having sex with her then-boyfriend Rick Salomon in 2001, when she was 19, was first posted on the Internet in late 2003, making her famous and the punch-line on almost every late-nite program. But the impact it's had on her is still vivid. 

"That was a private moment of a teenage girl, not in her right head space, but everyone was watching it and laughing like it's something funny," she said, fighting back tears. "If that happened today, it would not be the same story at all, but they made me the bad person. I did something bad...I was just so lost and desperate for love that I found the worst possible person." 

Explaining that was her first real relationship and she just wanted to make Rick happy, Paris recalled feeling "like being electronically raped."

"For people to think I did it on purpose because after that all of these leaked tapes were coming out and it almost became like a blueprint to become famous," she continued. "I don't know. I didn't need to do that. I always had a plan."

Salomon has not responded to E! News' request for comment. 

Struggling With Insomnia

While on a promotional tour in Korea, the camera stayed with Paris as she tried, and failed, to fall asleep, the minutes inching closer and closer to her early start time.

"I have horrible insomnia," she admitted. "I'm scared to go to bed at night. I always have this recurring nightmare no matter what I do. I'm in bed and these two people come into my room and say, 'Do you want this to happen the easy way or the hard way?' I try and just run."

Her Nightmare Revealed

Paris' recurring nightmare is revealed to be inspired by a real-life event: being taken in the middle of the night from her bed to go to one of the schools. "I knew there was a takedown in the works," Nicky recalled. "I didn't know it was people coming in and capturing her.

Of the terrifying experience, Paris recalled, "I thought I was being kidnapped. I started screaming for my mom and dad, like, 'Help me.' And no one came."

And as they were taking her, she remembered seeing her parents standing by their door, crying as they watched.

But by breakfast the following morning, they were back to business as usual, Nicky explained, which was brushing everything under the rug. 

"My parents were smiling like everything was fine," she remembered. "We didn't ask any questions and then I think [Kathy] said she went to boarding school. They were always trying to protect us and shield us."

Trust Issues

During a scene filmed in her Los Angeles home, Paris revealed her large collection of laptops and the surprising reason she has so many.

"Any time I get a new boyfriend I get a full new computer because they always break into my computers or they'll scream at me and threaten me, 'Give me your password now,'" she explained. "One night I was with one of my ex-boyfriends and we got in a big fight. I was on my computer ignoring him because I felt really uncomfortable and he just grabbed it from me and just slammed it on the floor."

In an earlier scene, Paris installed a spy-cam in her house just before her new suitor arrived, saying, "I'm doing this because I have a new boyfriend…I do want to know what's happening when I'm not here." 

According Nicky, Paris has "been betrayed so many times, so she has a tough time trusting people and letting people in."

Her Billion-Dollar Dream

Though she comes from an American dynasty, it's clear throughout the documentary that Paris had no intention of relying on the Hilton family fortune, revealing her "goal in life" is to be a billionaire.

"I will not stop until I make a billion dollars," she told her sister in one scene. "And then I think I can relax. I know it sounds crazy. I don't know, I just don't want to have to worry. I don't ever want to have to worry about anything."

But that wasn't the first time Paris' dreamed about independent wealth. 

"When I was a teenager, I always wanted to make one hundred million," she explained. "I was like, when I do that, I'm going to be happy. I think once you do your goal you just want to keep going more and more. And then I'll be happy. I'm happy now sometimes."

And one of the things that helped get her through her time at Provo was thinking about what she was going to do when she left.

"I just wanted to be independent, make a name for myself and build my brand," Paris said. "I knew that would be the ultimate freedom."

The Fake Persona

The Paris we've all known and (sometimes) mocked for almost 20 years? She's not real and she's very much in on that joke, with the very first scene of the documentary exposing the facade as she struggled to act "normal" in front of the camera. 

"Sorry, I'm just so used to playing a character that it's, like, hard for me to be, like, normal," she explained to the director. "I turn into someone else."

While the airhead socialite persona—and that voice—initially helped her find fame and success, it was a double-edged sword, ultimately becoming a dark shadow Paris can't shake. 

"I travel all around the world and I've seen nothing except hotel rooms, clubs, stores. I don't even know who I am sometimes," Paris admitted.
"I'm always kind of putting on this facade…or just happy, perfect life. I just had this plan and then created this brand and this persona and this character and I've been stuck with her ever since. Like, I didn't use to be that way."

So who is the real Paris? "It's funny because her brand is a lot more glamorous than she is," Nicky described. "She's a chick who likes to scrapbook at home with her dogs, eat leftovers, she sounds like Homer Simpson. She's very normal…she really is like a boy at heart."

Motherhood and Marriage

While spending time with Nicky and niece Lily-Grace, Paris is asked by her younger sister if she would like to have children.

"I thought I was going to have one," Paris answered. "Every time I'm with you and I'm with them, it makes me so depressed."

She went to reveal she's had her eggs frozen and would like to have a girl first, even revealing the name she has picked out: London. But, she said, "I just don't know when I'll have time." 

While Paris has been engaged three times, she's never wed, and she briefly opened up about the demise of her most recent engagement to actor Chris Zylka.

"I was really happy in the beginning," she said. "From the outside it would look like just the perfect couple because I was posting all these really happy photos and amazing quotes…but deep down I just felt kind of trapped. When you get married, you're forced to grow up. I am afraid to grow up. I know I am grown up, but I think after being at those schools you lose your childhood."

Because of her previous experiences, Paris said, "I'm freaked out by people, especially men." And when Nick told her she needed to date an equal because they can't be controlled, Paris responded, "I don't like that....because I'm scared."

Guilt Over Being the Original Influencer

Because of what she went through during her 11 months at the school, Paris wanted to project the "perfect" image, hoping to mask her 
trauma" and avoid any embarrassment.

"That's why I always had to project basically what I think the public wants," she explained of adopting her persona. "And now I see the little girls…they're trying to get the perfect selfie, they're putting the filters on, they can't even look at themselves in the phone without putting a filter. I can't even imagine a 13-year-old girl today."

But Paris admitted to feeling "responsible" for the rise of social media, selfies and the unrealistic beauty standards apps and filters can set.

"Everyone says I'm the original influencer," she said, "but sometimes I feel like I helped create a monster."

Still, it's hard for her to resist the allure of likes and comments. An app on her phone revealed she spent an average of 16 hours on her social media daily. "When you add up all those hours…it's literally like years of your life spent just looking at a phone," Paris reflected. "It's just so beyond."

Fans Over Family and Friends

"I feel less alone when my little Hiltons are there," Paris said of her fans, who gave themselves that moniker and often line up at airports to await her arrival. And the former reality star had a connection with two fans who traveled over 30 hours to be there when she arrived in Korea. 

"Just thinking about it today, I don't know what many genuine people, aside from my fans," she later said, adding that the two women had honest conversations with her. "Like when they talk to me, it's, like, not even my real friends would say that."

(This story was originally published on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020 at 6 a.m. PT.)