During a news conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Paris Hilton called on President Biden and Congress to take action against the “troubled teen industry.”
The 40-year-old entrepreneur and socialite has become an advocate for children who are abused in congregate care facilities after sharing her own traumatic experience as a teen at a psychiatric youth treatment center in Utah in the 2020 documentary “This Is Paris.”
“For 20 years I couldn’t sleep at night as memories of physical violence, the feeling of loneliness, the loss of peers rushed through my mind when I shut my eyes,” Hilton said. “This was not just insomnia. This was trauma.”
Hilton appeared alongside other teen survivors in Washington, D.C., to announce the Accountability for Congregate Care Act. She was joined by lawmakers Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who are co-sponsoring the legislation.
“I am confident that this bill will create a world where all youth have the support and opportunity they need to heal, thrive and not just survive,” Hilton said. “This bill provides rights that I was never afforded.”
The famed hotel heiress said she endured physical and psychological abuse by staff at all four facilities she was placed in as a teen — an experience that she said left her with “severe PTSD.”
“I was strangled, slapped across the face, watched in the shower by male staff, called vulgar names, forced to take medication without a diagnosis, thrown into solitary confinement in a room where the walls were covered in scratch marks and smeared in blood,” she recalled. “I was forced to stay indoors for 11 months straight — no sunlight, no fresh air.”
Hilton also recounted the alleged abuse in an op-ed published Monday by the Washington Post.
“I wish I could tell you what I experienced or witnessed was unique or even rare, but sadly it’s not,” she said. “Every day in America, children in congregate care settings are being physically, emotionally and sexually abused.”
Hilton called on Biden to back the legislation, which would establish a bill of rights for children placed in such facilities and act as oversight for the so-called troubled teen industry.
“Ensuring children are safe from institutional abuse isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue,” she said. “It’s a basic human rights issue that requires immediate attention.”
Khanna said he’s confident that once fellow members of Congress hear stories from survivors like Hilton, there is a “good chance” the bill will be passed.
“So far we haven’t seen any opposition,” he said.
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