Cheryl Burke Reveals Childhood Sexual Abuse and the 'Scariest Moment of My Life' on TLC's 'Breaking the Silence'

"I'm only human," said the the former Dancing with the Stars pro, "and sometimes the stuff I've gone through ... it just brings me back"

Photo: David Livingston/Getty

Cheryl Burke shed new light on the molestation she experienced as a child during TLC’s documentary Breaking the Silence on Sunday.

“I still go through times when I’m down,” Burke revealed. “I don’t feel like I’m that strong woman that people think I am today.”

Added the the former Dancing with the Stars pro: “I’m only human, and sometimes the stuff I’ve gone through, I think about all the time, and it just brings me back.”

After Burke’s father moved to Thailand when she was a young child, Burke’s mother remarried and asked a neighbor in his 60s to take care of Burke, then in kindergarten. It was then, she said, that the cycle of molestation began: “He would cuddle me, he would make me watch pornographic videos. 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.”

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

“I couldn’t speak up for myself,” she said. “It was hard for me to say no. In a weird way it was like I didn’t want to hurt him.”

After Burke’s abuser was caught trying to molest another of her friends, she had to testify against him at just 6 years old.

It was “the scariest moment of my life, still to this day,” said Burke. “I couldn’t talk, my mom was there holding my hand, I was shaking and there was my molester right in front of me. It was so terrifying to see him face to face. I remember taking a lot of breaks because I would just break down. … I just did not understand or comprehend what was happening.”

Though her abuser was sentenced to 20 years in prison, Burke sought out physically and emotionally abusive relationships until she found healing and self-confidence through dance: “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.”

RELATED VIDEO: TLC’s Documentary Breaking the Silence Gives Voice to Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Burke, 31, joined sisters Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard, as well as their mother Michelle Duggar, who sought education to address the aftermath of the abuse Jill and Jessa faced at the hands of brother Josh more than a decade ago.

During the one-hour special, Burke and the Duggars were among survivors of all ages, male and female, who shared their stories of childhood sexual molestation. Chief among these was two-time victim Erin Merryn, who is fighting to end abuse with Erin’s Law legislation, which requires sexual abuse prevention education in public schools and has already been passed in 26 states.

Breaking the Silence teamed up TLC with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and Darkness to Light (D2L) a nonprofit organization that works to empower people to prevent child sexual abuse and will share the stories of survivors of sexual abuse.

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