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.