LOS ANGELES – Being locked in a cell was a “traumatic experience” and something she never expected after driving with a suspended license, a subdued Paris Hilton told CNN’s Larry King on Wednesday.
Letters from fans and supporters from around the world, including U.S. soldiers in Iraq and people as far away as India, helped her get through the 23 days in lockup, Hilton told King in her first broadcast interview since leaving jail Tuesday.
“I’ve been through a lot,” said Hilton, her blond hair cascading across her forehead. “And it was a pretty traumatic experience, something that I really have grown from.”
Asked why she was going public about her experience, she told King, “I just want to let people know what I went through.”
She added that going to jail was the last thing she expected when Superior Court Judge Michael Sauer ordered her to his court in May for violating probation in an alcohol-related reckless-driving case.
“I was walking in there assuming I was just going to get community service,” Hilton said. “That’s what my lawyer said at the time. So when he sentenced me to that much time in jail it was shocking because that doesn’t happen, ever.”
Asked whether she thought she got a “raw deal,” she said yes. Still, she vowed never to drink and drive again.
“I’ll never make that mistake again,” she said.
Hilton also told King she thought the experience had changed her for the better.
“I feel like God does make everything happen for a reason,” she said. “And it gave me, you know, a time-out in life just to really find out what is important and what I want to do, figure out who I am.”
She said she is looking at getting involved in a number of charitable causes, including those helping children.
Asked about her reputation as a party girl, the 26-year-old hotel heiress acknowledged she likes to have a good time with friends, but insisted that only represents one side of her.
“I am a social person,” she said. “I love to dance, I love to go out, I love music. But a lot of people don’t know that I’m a business person. I run several businesses.”
Hilton, who said she supports herself and doesn’t take money from her parents, also acknowledged it may be time to cut back on her partying.
“I’m frankly sick of it,” she said.
She said she eventually hopes to marry and have children.
“When I have a daughter I have a lot of good advice for her,” she said.