Photo Credit: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic
Cheryl Burke has revealed her passion for dance -- and her enviable hourglass figure -- in nearly every season of Dancing With the Stars. But there's one part of her life that she's kept under wraps until now. According to People, Burke's upcoming memoir Dancing Lessons, out Feb. 8, delves into the painful story of how the dancer was molested as a child -- and how she helped send her abuser to prison.
Burke, 26, was 5 years old when she was first assaulted. The repeat offender was a seemingly friendly neighbor, a retired mailman who would sometimes pick Burke up from school. Being so young, Burke was confused about what was happening, but she came forward when the man was accused of assaulting other children. Burke testified against him in court, but says that she still "felt guilty for wanting his love and affection." She calls speaking up at the trial as "the hardest thing I've ever done."
"I saw his face and lawyers were asking me these questions," Burke remembers, "and I was like, 'What am I doing? Did I even do anything wrong?'"
The man was sentenced to almost two decades in prison. Burke went through years of therapy, until she finally understood how wrong her abuser's actions were -- and how none of it was her fault. Today, she no longer considers the incident a shameful secret, and she wants to encourage other victims to step forward.
"I'm telling my story. They're not secrets," Burke tells People. "There's no shame... If I can help just one person, for me that's all that matters." Burke, a trained ballroom and Latin dancer, is a two-time DWTS champion. She won both mirror ball trophies in 2006: first with partner Drew Lachey in Season 2, and then with partner Emmitt Smith in Season 3. It's unknown if she'll be returning for Season 12 in March, as the dancers don't find out until the celebrities are chosen.
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