"It’s always there in the back of my mind," Hilton said, calling the nonconsensual leak and following media frenzy "humiliating." "When it happened, people were so mean about it to me," she said. "The way that I was spoken about on nightly talk shows and the media, to see things with my family was just heartbreaking. I would be in tears every single day, I didn’t want to leave my house, I felt like my life was over."
Today, the release of the tape by Hilton's ex, poker player Rick Salomon, would be considered revenge porn. "It was a private experience between two people," Hilton explained. "You love someone, you trust someone and to have your trust betrayed like that and for the whole world to be watching and laughing … It was even more hurtful to me to have these people think that I did this on purpose — that killed me. It still gives me post-traumatic stress disorder to talk about it."
Hilton has previously spoken about the trauma she endured from the leak in the 2018 Netflix film The American Meme. "It was like being raped," she says in the documentary. "It felt like I'd lost part of my soul and been talked about in such cruel and mean ways. I literally wanted to die at some points. I was like, ‘I just don't want to live,’ because I thought everything was taken away from me."
In recent years, Hilton has become much more open about her mental health, including the effect that staying at Provo Canyon School, a reform boarding school in Utah for troubled teens, has had on her. In her 2020 documentary, This Is Paris, the pop culture icon touches on her past childhood trauma and how she’s been getting through it. Since she spoke out, many other former residents at Provo Canyon School and similar facilities have come forward to speak about the abuse they experienced.
But right now, the public and the media is being forced to re-examine how women stars including Hilton, Britney Spears, and Amanda Bynes were treated throughout their careers. Hopefully, Hilton’s openness about the enduring impact the release of this tape and the public’s response to it had on her will help keep the same thing from happening again.