Paris Hilton and Drew Barrymore on How Solitary Confinement Helped and Hindered Them as Teens
By Leena Tailor
Cole Bennetts/Getty Images for Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton and Drew Barrymore are opening up about spending time in solitary confinement. Hilton appeared on Monday’s episode of The Drew Barrymore Show, while promoting her new YouTube Originals documentary, This Is Paris.
In the documentary, Hilton, 39, recounts being taken from her bed one night and shipped off to boarding school in Utah, where she claims she and her peers experienced emotional and physical abuse. She also alleges that school staff sent her to solitary confinement for up to 20 hours if she refused to take mystery pills.
Barrymore remarked how viewing the documentary felt like, “watching a mirror image of everything I’ve been through.”
“I’ve had the people come and take me away,” Barrymore shared. “I’ve been locked up in solitary confinement. I’ve been in a place for lengthy periods of time -- we are talking year-and-a-half plus. I haven’t seen any story like this reflected out there very often, that’s one I recognize so deeply.”
Discussing her own experience, Hilton said it gave her PTSD and explained why her parents, Kathy and Rick, made the decision to send her to the school.
“All it did was give me trust issues, PTSD,” she said. “I didn’t deserve to go there. My mom and dad were just very strict and sheltered when I lived in L.A. I wasn’t allowed to go on dates, couldn’t wear makeup, couldn’t go to a school dance. They just didn’t want me to grow up.”
“Then I moved to New York and that’s when my life changed,” she continued. “I was sneaking out at night and going to clubs and ditching school, but not doing anything terrible -- just wanting to go out at night -- and that really scared my parents because they were so protective.”
In contrast, Barrymore, 45, recounted how her own experience saved her life.
“I didn’t like being thrown in solitary confinement. I will say I was very rebellious,” she said. “I started riots there all the time. There was a lot of other kids like me. My mom just didn’t know what to do with me. I was doing drugs. I was out of control.”
“She just threw her hands up and threw me in there not knowing where else to turn to,” Barrymore continued. “That place really did help me and it did save my life and I actually wouldn’t change a thing.”
Hilton, who hadn’t previously revealed the traumatic experience to her parents, says talking about the ordeal has now brought her closer to her mom.
She explained that the experience wasn’t originally planned to be a focus of This Is Paris. She had instead been wanting to highlight her business accomplishments and put to rest the “many misconceptions” about her.
However, during filming, she formed a tight bond with director, Alexandra Dean, who encouraged her to share her pain.
“We had this sisterly relationship where I felt I could open about anything with her,” Hilton said. “She told me, ‘This is so important that you tell your story because you are going to help other survivors and people want to come forward with theirs.’ It was very difficult for me because it wasn’t something I ever wanted to talk about in public.”
"I was embarrassed for people to know," Hilton added. "I now know that I shouldn't be ashamed, the people who work at these places who are abusing children are the ones who should be ashamed."
Hilton recently discussed her documentary with ET -- check out the interview below.