Paris Hilton Describes Being 'Sexually Abused' in Youth Facility During Powerful Congressional Testimony

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Former reality TV star Paris Hilton testified in front of Congress on Wednesday about her experience of being abused in youth residential treatment facilities. During her testimony, she discussed how employees at these facilities mistreated her and other children, and called for action from Congress to protect others in the same situation.

Hilton has been a longtime vocal advocate for children’s welfare – especially those who are kept in treatment facilities. “I’m here to be the voice for the children whose voices can’t be heard,” she said, while delivering remarks to the House Ways and Means Committee. She continued:

The purpose of the hearing was to discuss making the child welfare system safer for the kids in its care.

Hilton described her negative experiences in multiple facilities.

The heiress spoke about the time she spent as a child in youth residential facilities, often referred to collectively as the “troubled teen industry.” The 43-year-old told the committee how she was ripped from her bed at home at 16 and taken to the first of four facilities she would end up staying in.

Hilton has previously revealed that her parents sent her to these facilities after she started clubbing and partying at 15.

“These programs promised healing, growth and support, but instead, did not allow me to speak, move freely or even look out a window for two years,” Hilton told the panel.

“I was force-fed medications and sexually abused by the staff. I was violently restrained and dragged down hallways, stripped naked and thrown into solitary confinement.”

Hilton would cope with the abuse she endured in these facilities by pretending to be someone else, she told The Independent last year.

“I was in so much pain that I created this Barbie doll fantasy life,” Hilton said. “It was a character I put on as a mask to protect myself.”

The socialite urged lawmakers to pass the Stop Institutional Child Abuse Act. This legislation would establish a Federal Work Group on Youth Residential Programs that would include representatives from various federal agencies such as the Administration for Children and Families and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

This group would work to improve data collection and foster transparency about the conditions of the facilities and the safety of the children involved in the programs. It would also mandate the creation of a national database to monitor incidents of abuse and neglect to promote more oversight and accountability.

The bill was introduced in 2023 by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

As I wrote in April, Hilton gave testimony in front of California’s State Assembly, which is considering a similar measure.

While many of these facilities genuinely seek to help troubled children, others have engaged in questionable conduct with the kids under their care. In at least one case, negligence led to the death of a teenager after being disciplined.

Between 2015 and 2020, California sent more than 1,240 children with behavior problems to out-of-state facilities due to the lack of locked treatment centers for youths, according to Sen. Grove’s office. As reports about abuse happening at these programs emerged, including an incident where a 16-year-old boy died after being restrained for about 12 minutes at a Michigan facility, California also found significant licensing violations at these facilities and decided to do away with the program in 2020. Legislation passed in 2021 formally banned the use of out-of-state residential centers. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom also authorized $8 million to bring all the minors home by last year.

Hilton last appeared before Congress in 2021, when she called on lawmakers to adopt a “Bill of Rights” for children in youth residential facilities.

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