In a new interview with People magazine, Hilton claims that the 11 months she spent at the Provo Canyon School at the age of 17 was "torture."
“It was supposed to be a school, but [classes] were not the focus at all,” Hilton says. “From the moment I woke up until I went to bed, it was all day screaming in my face, yelling at me, continuous torture.”
She goes on to detail the verbal abuse saying, “The staff would say terrible things. They were constantly making me feel bad about myself and bullying me. I think it was their goal to break us down. And they were physically abusive, hitting and strangling us. They wanted to instill fear in the kids so we’d be too scared to disobey them.”
She says after another student told the staff she planned to run away, they placed her in solitary confinement.
“They would use that as punishment, sometimes 20 hours a day," Hilton says.
People also says that three of Hilton's former classmates are interviewed in the documentary making similar allegations about the school, adding that they were often force-fed medication and held down by restraints as punishment.
People reached out to the school for comment and received this response: “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.”
Hilton says she was only allowed to speak with her family "once every two or three months," and that when she once tried to tell them what was going on she was severely punished.
"They would grab the phone or rip up letters I wrote, telling me, ‘No one is going to believe you.’ And the staff would tell the parents that the kids were lying," she recalls. "So my parents had no idea what was going on.”
“I was having panic attacks and crying every single day,” Hilton continues. “I was just so miserable. I felt like a prisoner and I hated life.”
Hilton says she hasn't spoken of the ordeal until now, noting that when she finally left the school, “I was so grateful to be out of there, I didn’t even want to bring it up again."
Though she says she's not seeking legal action against the school, she is using her influence to try and stop this from happening to anyone else.
“I want these places shut down,” Hilton says. “I want them to be held accountable. And I want to be a voice for children and now adults everywhere who have had similar experiences. I want it to stop for good and I will do whatever I can to make it happen.”