Traumatized woman details horrors of 'tough love' school system after Paris Hilton's revelations of abuse
This article contains distressing content that could be traumatic for some readers. Discretion is advised.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: An Australian woman has opened up about her traumatizing experience at a controversial US boarding school after Paris Hilton recounted the sexual and mental abuse she underwent at a similar facility.
Emily, now 25, was just 15 years old when her divorced parents decided to send her from Sydney to a controversial care facility in the US that uses "tough love" to discipline teens. Similarly, Paris Hilton was sent to a therapeutic boarding school as a teen in the 1990s aged 16.
Detailing the horror she endured, Emily told '60 Minutes' on Sunday, November 13, "Around three in the morning two burly strangers switched on my bedside lamp and that's when I was presented with the option - the easy way or the hard way." The strangers took her to a Utah wilderness facility, where she spent approximately 10 weeks before being shipped to a remote camp in Montana.
Emily said the children at the camp were mentally abused by the staff and were given satanic punishments even for small infractions. "If you even looked at someone the wrong way you were forced to dig up tree stumps," she said. Emily further claimed that, as a punishment, food was taken away from children and they were not allowed to talk to anyone for months during that punishment period.
"The worst of my experience was the headmaster of the school telling me that I would amount to nothing because I was a wayward youth and that I wasn't worth the college education fee. It was a snowball effect, so one kid would start yelling at another kid, and more kids would join in, and these were torture for me, to have a group of 15 of my peers yelling at me, and what would make matters worse was this rile-up gang mentality would go farther than the walls of that room," Emily said.
Emily spent around 2 years at the facility despite its history of crime, drug abuse, and mental health issues. She rejects all claims that the billion-dollar therapeutic residence industry is merely about tough love. "Characterising what we went through as discipline is not only gaslighting but it's grossly unfair," Emily said.
The claim from the Australian woman came just a month after the multimillionaire heiress opened up about how she was sexually abused and forced to undergo cervical exams performed by staff members after she was sent to a Utah boarding school in the 1990s. She said her childhood was snatched away from her by the staff at the facility where she was sent at the age of 16 for being a troubled teen. Hilton said she spent around 11 months there.
It’s known as the troubled teen industry. Spread across the U.S., these facilities and programs are supposed to help children with mental health and behavioral issues.— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) October 11, 2022
In reality, it is harming many of them. https://t.co/bCBYEdpVYm pic.twitter.com/qvm3LZ8oth
"Very late at night – this would be around three or four in the morning – they would take me and other girls into this room, and they would perform medical exams," Hilton said while speaking to New York Times. "This wasn't even with a doctor. It was with a couple of different staff members, where they would have us lay on the table and put their fingers inside of us. And I don't know what they were doing, but it was not a doctor and it was really scary."
"It was really scary, and it’s something that I really had blocked out for many years. But it’s coming back all the time now, and I think about it. And now, looking back as an adult, that was definitely sexual abuse," she continued. The socialite successfully pushed for new, stricter regulations on schools for disturbed youths after first criticizing the institution in her 2020 documentary 'This Is Paris'.
Testifying to Utah lawmakers in February 2021, the hotel heiress said she was "verbally, mentally and physically abused daily" at Provo Canyon.