Cheryl Burke: I Was Molested as a Child

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Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke recently cracked us up with a Tweet about being fingered by a TSA agent. But this story is no laughing matter.

Burke is breaking her silence on being molested by a family friend when she was five years old - a horror she says she relives daily, especially lately.

Her tormentor is now out of prison and roaming the streets, adding to her anxiety. "It was lots of touching," Burke recalls of her molester.

The guy was a retired mailman who would often pick Cheryl up from school and do odd jobs around her family's house in Atherton, Calif.

"He would pull my pants down in his van or touch me in the living room while [her caregiver] Ima was in the kitchen cooking," she says.

The man was eventually arrested after trying to sexually assault Burke's stepsister and her friend. Burke, then 6, testified in court.

"That was the scariest moment of my life," she says, although the man was convicted and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.

"I felt disgusted with myself for the longest time," Burke says, adding that she still recoils when she sees mailmen or similar vans.

"I knew what he did was wrong, but I wanted affection," she says.

And now that he's out of prison, Burke is extremely wary.

"It creeps me out," she says. "My worst nightmare is to run into him. Not until he dies will I be able not to worry."

Burke opens up about this in her new book, Dancing Lessons, in which she also discusses abusive boyfriends, including one of her own.

Hopefully, people who look up to Cheryl can find comfort in sharing an experience that - disturbingly and sadly - is all too common.


As a survivor of child abuse, I know the pain that can follow you through your life, sneak into your relationships, and destroy your self-esteem. I also found myself drawn to other abusive relationships. After 10 years of living with this pain, I spoke out and got help. And fortunately, I learned that I could move past this trauma and lead a normal life. However, to do this, it first took not seeing myself as a victim. I'm a survivor! The past is the past. My present and my future are mine to create. Today I am a strong man that respects my body...possibly even more thanks to the terrible things that happened. I applaud Cheryl for her bravery to speak out against this crime. And I invite you to remember, that this is only a small part of the beautiful story that is your life.


To "Monkey" up above. Your remarks reflect a sick sadistic streak. I feel sorry for the people in your life.
If anything traumatic happens to you, I guess it would be justice if the people around you would say 'yea yea yea' to your anguish and pain. To Cheryl- We sympathize. You are not alone. He will die soon.


Yea yea yea weren't we all in one way or another? What counts is how we deal, learn and move on. If we all use some kind of mental or physical trama as an excuse to use drugs, drink or just pissed at life than we will never grow up! That's is what life is all about ~ dealing with the ups and downs of life. It's not always pretty picture.


So was i


dholams, you are so right. I know most abusers never change. He will most likely have the desire to do the same thing again. As far as the abuse, I always feel bad for kids that have to go through that but never really thought about the rest of their lives. They not only suffer the abuse, they suffer the memories of it always. That is what makes it awful. One person ruined an aspect of this woman's life forever, that isn't fair.


The abuse is something that stays with you for life. It affects every part of your life and relationships with others. At least they caught him and put him in prison, but, he should have been put away for life as should all predators of children. What is to say he won't find another victim to abuse.


Cheryl Burke Biography

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Dancing with the Stars has made Cheryl Burke a star. Sort of, at least. But that's all we know Cheryl Burke from. That and being... More »
San Francisco, California
Full Name
Cheryl Bautista Burke