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Paris Hilton leads abuse survivors in Utah protest of Provo Canyon School: 'This is just the first step'

Paris Hilton lead an Oct. 9 protest demanding the closure of Provo Canyon School in Springville, Utah, where she claims she was abused as a student. (Photo: Tibrina Hobson/WireImage)

Paris Hilton advanced her campaign to close the Utah boarding school where she alleges she was abused, with a Friday protest.

In her Sept. 14 YouTube documentary This Is Paris, the reality television star revealed that she was abused by administrators at Provo Canyon School in Springville, Utah at the age of 17. Frustrated by her rebellious behavior, Hilton’s parents sent her to the residential treatment center, where Hilton says she was kept in solitary confinement, hit and intimidated.

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A disclaimer on school’s website reads, “We are aware of media referencing Provo Canyon School. Please note that PCS was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000. We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to that time. We are committed to providing high-quality care to youth with special, and often complex, emotional, behavioral and psychiatric needs.”

For the documentary, Hilton met with other survivors of the school and this month, tattoo artist Kat Von D recalled her time there as “the most traumatic six months of my life.”

On Friday, hundreds of people joined Hilton at a park near the school. Wearing a black T-shirt that read “Survivor” and “Breaking code silence,” Hilton held a sign with the lettering, “The kids you abuse today will be the ones that will take you down tomorrow.”

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Hilton told protestors, “Today, I’m not here as Paris Hilton. I’m here as just another survivor who was abused, who has lived with that since the day I left. And I am dedicated to shutting down Provo Canyon School, which will cause a chain reaction among this entire industry.”

The star also told Fox 13, “This has been one of the most empowering moments of my life and this is just the first step.”

Hilton, who subsequently developed post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, said her experience at the school led to multiple abusive relationships and her 2003 sex tape with ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon who sold the footage titled 1 Night in Paris.

“That would never have happened if I hadn’t gone to that school,” Hilton told CBS Sunday Morning. “When I got out of that school, I was so lost. And then I ended up meeting the person who did that.”

On Friday morning, Hilton told Good Morning America that boyfriend Carter Reum has re-established her trust in men. “It’s the first time I’ve really opened my heart and he is so incredible, I finally feel safe…he makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world…”

The star’s Change.org petition to close the school has more than 130,000 signatures.

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