This takes a lot of courage!
Cheryl Burke was one of a few celebs — like Jessa and Jill Duggar — who shared their story on TLC‘s Breaking the Silence, a documentary special looking to educate people on child sexual abuse by sharing survivors stories.
The Dancing With The Stars alum revealed:
“I still go through times when I’m down. I don’t feel like I’m that strong woman that people think I am today.”
The dancer explained that after her father moved to Thailand when she young, Burke’s mother remarried. During this time, her mom asked a neighbor who was in his 60s to look after Burke, who was only in kindergarten.
It was this man that took advantage of Cheryl:
“He would cuddle me, he would make me watch pornographic videos. He was kind of like that fatherly figure – I think he knew my weakness, that I was very insecure. He knew that no one was ever around.”
She continued by talking about how difficult it was for her to tell anyone:
“I couldn’t speak up for myself. It was hard for me to say no. In a weird way it was like I didn’t want to hurt him.”
The man was eventually caught trying to molest another small girl and Burke was asked to testify against the man, even though she was only 6-years-old. The 31-year-old opened up about the day she testified, saying it was:
“… the scariest moment of my life, still to this day.I couldn’t talk, my mom was there holding my hand, I was shaking and there was my molester right in front of me. It was so terrifying to see him face to face. I remember taking a lot of breaks because I would just break down. … I just did not understand or comprehend what was happening.”
The man was ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison but Burke says that because of the experience, she sought out both physically and emotionally abusive relationships until she came across dancing, which helped her to heal. She said:
“Dance was my escape from reality. I was able to start building my confidence and know that I don’t need anybody to be happy. I just needed just me. I needed to know that I could do this on my own.”
“I’m proof that you can actually move on from this.”
Though we’re incredibly saddened that anyone has had experiences such as this, we commend Burke for being brave enough to share her stories to help spread awareness for such a controversial topic.
[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]