Cheryl Burke may be one of the brightest, smiling faces on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” but the ballroom professional has just come forward with a revelation of a tragic past that includes being molested as a child.
“I’m telling my story,” Cheryl, 26, told People mag, of her decision to reveal the traumatic details from her childhood, and physical abuse by two ex-boyfriends in “Dancing Lessons,” her new book, which was co-written by Monica Rizzo, a senior writer at the mag.
Cheryl told People that she testified as a child against a friend of her family’s, a retired mailman, who molested her when she was just 5 years old.
“I felt guilty for wanting his love and affection,” she told the mag.
Cheryl’s testimony helped send the unnamed man to prison for more than 20 years, but she said speaking out in court was, “the hardest thing I’ve ever done … I saw his face and lawyers were asking me these questions and I was like, ‘What am I doing? Did he even do anything wrong?’”
The ballroom beauty said she hopes sharing her own story of abuse can help others.
“If I can help just one person… for me that’s all that matters,” she said.
Cheryl said she is glad to come out and share her story.
“They’re not secrets. There’s no shame,” she added.
“Dancing Lessons: How I Found Passion and Potential on the Dance Floor and in Life” will be released on February 8.
“Dancing with the Stars” returns to ABC in March.