Several evil systems in the US profit off of the exploitation of the vulnerable. Breaking Code Silence is a social media movement working towards tearing down one of those systems known as the “troubled teen industry,” which preys on parents and teens who are “acting out.” The industry ends up draining money from the parents or Medicaid, all while committing atrocities against these helpless teens. These teens are often forcibly removed from their homes and separated from their families with no contact for months, sometimes years. Using the hashtag #breakingcodesilence, organizers encourage survivors of abuse and mistreatment in boarding schools, rehabs, and juvenile detention centers to share their stories in hopes that these places will be shut down. On their Twitter page, they have a video pinned explaining the purpose behind the movement:
— BreakingCodeSilence (@BreakingCodeSi1) March 4, 2020
Recently, the organization has gained a supporter and survivor that is bringing their mission to the main stage: Paris Hilton.
When Paris released her biographical documentary This Is Paris, fans expected to get a sneak peak into the fabulous life of one of pop culture’s most fabulous people. Paris created an entire brand off of a simple catchphrase, “that’s hot,” and seemed to live the life every teenager would dream of. However, there was a much darker storyline that emerged from the film. Paris reveals that as a teenager, her parents sent her to what were referred to as “emotional growth schools.” Paris named one of the schools, the Provo Canyon School in Utah, as “the worst of the worst.” In the documentary, she recounts that as a student of the school, “you’re sitting on a chair staring at a wall all day long, getting yelled at, or hit.” She was also forced to take antipsychotics and other heavy medications throughout her stay. She says, “I didn’t know what they were giving me. I would just feel so tired and numb. Some people in that place were just gone, like the lights are on, no one’s home. A lot of people were on suicide watch, and I was so scared that was going to happen to me.”
In the film, Paris describes the long-term damage it has caused her: “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.” In addition, she says that after being abused in these schools, it was hard for her to have relationships with anyone else in her life. Thinking about her abusive relationships, Paris says, “I accepted it because I almost thought it was normal. It was like, ‘He loves me so much that he’s going this crazy.’ I just wanted love so bad that I was willing to accept being hit or yelled at or screamed or strangled or a lot of things.” She even suggested that had she not been abused for all those years, there would have been no Night In Paris because she would have never dated Rick Salamon: “I was just so lost and desperate for love that I found the worst possible person.”
A scene that is especially moving, and humanizing as far as showing a very vulnerable and real side of Paris, is when she meets up with two of her classmates from Provo. After shooting a social media campaign for Breaking Code Silence, Paris says, “We were really talking about our lives and things that affected us and making a change and a difference. It just made me feel like I wasn’t alone anymore.”
Provo Canyon was bought by new owners in 2000, and a statement released following the film stated “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.”
If you’d like to learn more about Breaking Code Silence or donate to the cause, follow the link here.