In my 2020 documentary, “This is Paris,” I revealed a secret I had kept for more than 20 years: When I was 16, I was taken from my home in the middle of the night and spent almost two years at a series of residential treatment facilities. My parents had been conned into believing that my diagnosed attention deficit disorder behavior would be fixed with “tough love.”
I’m still processing the trauma, doing the hard work it takes to tell the whole story in a memoir that will be published next year. It takes all my courage to talk about it, but I couldn’t stand knowing that children as young as 8 years old are being sent to these “troubled teen” programs by parents who don’t know and government agencies that don’t care.
Sexual assaults of children
The last stop on my terrible journey was Provo Canyon School, a lockdown facility where I was sent after I escaped from a couple boot-camp type places. On my first day, I was forced to remove all my clothes, squat and cough, and submit to a gynecological exam – all watched closely by male staff. Although it was an extremely uncomfortable experience, I was led to believe it was a legitimate, routine check for contraband. But what I couldn’t understand as a 16-year-old girl was why that internal exam would be done to me frequently during my time at Provo, and only during the middle of the night.