Cheryl Burke Breaks Silence About Childhood Sexual Abuse in TLC Documentary

by Jackie Willis 12:14 PM PDT, August 31, 2015
Playing Cheryl Burke Breaks Silence About Childhood Sexual Abuse in TLC Documentary

Jill and Jessa Duggar weren't the only ones taking part in TLC's two-hour documentary, Breaking the Silence.

Former Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke also opened up about being sexually abused as a child.

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"I still go through times when I'm down," Burke revealed in the documentary that aired Sunday night. "I don't feel like I'm that strong woman that people think I am today."

Burke said that after her father moved to Thailand, her mother remarried and asked a neighbor in his 60s to look after her. Burke was who was in kindergarten when the abuse began.

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"He would cuddle me, he would make me watch pornographic videos," she recalled. "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."

Burke continued, "He would have me come sit next to him and make him feel comfortable because sometimes he would feel lonely."

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The 31-year-old TV star said she struggled with processing what was happening to her.

"I couldn't speak up for myself," she admitted. "It was hard for me to say no. In a weird way it was like I didn't want to hurt him."

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The man was later caught trying to molest one Burke's friends. Burke testified against him at just six years old, and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

"I'm only human," she said in the documentary, "and sometimes the stuff I've gone through, I think about all the time, and it just brings me back."

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Burke sought out dancing as a coping mechanism. "Dance was my escape from reality," she said. "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."

She added, "I'm proof that you can actually move on from this."

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Jill and Jessa Duggar also spoke out against child molestation, following the scandal surrounding their brother, former 19 Kids and Counting star Josh Duggar.

"I feel like this should be a discussion that people are having, even regularly," Jessa said. "I think that it shouldn't be a taboo subject, and that we should be bringing awareness to child sexual abuse, and talking about this."