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Kathy Hilton opens up about finally watching Paris' documentary: It put me into such 'a depression'

In “This is Paris” on YouTube, Paris Hilton opened up about the harrowing experience she endured at Utah’s Provo Canyon School.
Kathy Hilton, Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton and her mom Kathy Hilton.Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Despite being featured in the heartbreaking documentary about her daughter's life, Kathy Hilton was unable to watch it. Until recently.

In "This is Paris" on YouTube, Paris Hilton opened up about the harrowing experience she endured at Utah’s Provo Canyon School, a boarding school where she says she was abused — physically, emotionally and mentally. Since then she has become an advocate for reform at the national level, calling on Congress to take action to protect teens today from going through what she experienced.

“I feel like the whole world thinks they know me because I’ve been playing this character for so long,” Hilton said in the 2020 film. “No one really knows who I am. Something happened in my childhood that I’ve never talked about with anyone. I still have nightmares about it. I wish I could bring a camera into my dreams and show you what it’s like. It’s terrifying. And I relive that every night.”

During SiriusXM’s "Andy Cohen Live" on Wednesday, host Andy Cohen asked the elder Hilton: "Is it true that you have not seen her documentary 'This is Paris'?" 

"It was true," the 62-year-old reality star said. "And they did make me, (Paris) said to me, ‘It’s very important to me, mommy, that you watch this.’"

Despite hosting a party for the premiere of the doc at her home in Beverly Hills, Hilton said she refused to watch it at the time.

"It was too much after just watching a lot of the little clips ... the promos and trailers," she said. "Cause you can imagine me just finding out and I’m not one of those people, ‘Oh this is about me,’ 'cause it’s not about me, but yet it really was so devastating the way I was told. For her to keep that in for 20 years." 

A few weeks ago, Hilton and her daughter finally sat and watched it for the first time together.

"We held hands and I could see how important.... we held hands for an hour watching this thing," she said. "And just the energy that I was feeling from her and how relieved and happy that she was, that I would watch it. But it put me into such a depression. A lot of people understood that we are trying to help our daughter. We were trying to 'save' Paris."

Hilton elaborated on what happened during her daughter's teenage years that informed her decision to send her away to a school like Provo Canyon School.

“We were worried she was living in New York," Hilton explained. "She was sneaking out and sometimes didn’t come back home for three days. Not going to school and so we’d put her in this boarding school, this one. I thought gotta keep her away from the city and all these predators and people that want her to model. She escaped everywhere.

"I was ready for the booby hatch. I’m literally saying to myself, what do we do? Move to Mars? What are we gonna do? Where do we do, I was so helpless. We finally had to send her and we’d gone and visited and we had met with school placement people. It was handled extremely professionally."

At the time of the doc's release, a representative for Provo Canyon responded to the allegations in a statement to TODAY: “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.”

The statement added, in part: “Provo Canyon School today is an intensive, psychiatric residential treatment center for youth between the ages of 8 and 18 that have special, and often complex, mental health and emotional needs. We offer innovative, evidence-based therapeutic interventions, academic instruction and life-skills training tailored to the needs of each of our students.”

Hilton shared that since the documentary has been released, others have reached out to her and shared that they have had similar experiences as well.

"I found out after this came out, there’s people that you and I both know that have had these problems or sent their child to the school," she said. "Finally, they talked about it. You feel kind of ashamed.”