"I didn't know what true love was," says Paris Hilton, who says that five of her ex-boyfriends were abusive

By Aili Nahas
September 02, 2020 08:00 AM
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Paris Hilton is opening up about toxic relationships with several ex-boyfriends from her past.

"I went through multiple abusive relationships," the entrepreneur and former reality star tells PEOPLE . "I was strangled, I was hit, I was grabbed aggressively. I put up with things no one should."

In her new documentary, This Is Paris, premiering on her YouTube channel Sept. 14, Hilton reveals that the painful emotional and physical abuse she says she underwent as a teen while at the Provo Canyon boarding school in Utah precipitated her unhealthy relationships later in life.

  • For more from Paris Hilton, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

"I had become so used to [abusive behavior] at Provo, that it made me feel like it was normal," says Hilton, 39. The relationships with all five of her ex-boyfriends whom she says abused her started the same: "They all seemed like such nice guys and then the true colors would show," she says. "They'd get jealous, or defensive or try to control me. And there there would come a point where they would become physically, verbally and emotionally abusive." 

Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton
Ramona Rosales

Continues Hilton: "I didn't really understand what love or relationships were. I thought that them getting so crazy meant that they were in love with me. Looking back, I can't believe I let people treat me like that."

And Hilton says she never would have made the sex tape that leaked in 2003, had she not suffered such trauma at Provo. "I would never have let anyone into my life like [the man in the tape, whom she was dating at the time]. I met the worst person I could meet and if I hadn't gone to Provo, I wouldn't have entertained the thought of letting him into my life. Provo affected my future relationships."

(When contacted by PEOPLE, Provo Canyon School responded that the school was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000 — after Hilton had left — and subsequently, "We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to this time.")

Paris Hilton and Carter Reum
Kevin Mazur/Getty

Thankfully, in filming her documentary, Hilton found a way to release the trauma of her past and is now happily dating entrepreneur Carter Reum, 39.

"I feel so safe with him," says Hilton of her boyfriend of nine months. "Before, I don't think I was really ready for a good relationship. But I've learned so much. And I'm so grateful to have found my perfect match."