DWTS Burke reveals she was abused

Jan. 26, 2011 at 10:19 PM
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NEW YORK, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Two-time winner of "Dancing with the Stars" Cheryl Burke says she was repeatedly molested as a child by a trusted friend of her family at home in California.

The abuse, which began when Burke was 5 years old, was by a retired mailman who occasionally picked her up from school and did odd jobs around her home in Atherton, People Magazine reported Wednesday.

Burke eventually testified against her abuser, helping to send him to prison for almost 20 years, an event she chronicles along with other incidents of abuse in her book, "Dancing Lessons."

"I'm telling my story," says Burke, 26. "They're not secrets. There's no shame."

Her parent's marriage broke up when she was a baby, leading Burke to feel confused about being molested, People reported.

"I felt guilty for wanting his love and affection," Burke says, calling testifying against him "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?' "

After years of therapy, Burke says she understands how sick her abuser was.

"If I can help just one person," she says, "for me that's all that matters."

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