Professional dancer Cheryl Burke from Dancing With The Stars revealed that she was repeatedly molested by a friend of her family when she was a child.
“I’m telling my story,” says Burke, 26, who opens up about the molestation in her new book Dancing Lessons, (coauthored by People senior writer Monica Rizzo). “They’re not secrets. There’s no shame.”
The molestation began when Burke was five-years-old. The man was a retired mailman who was a friend of the family and would sometimes pick Burke up from school and do odd jobs around her home.
“He would pull my pants down in his van or he would touch me in the living room while [her caregiver] Ima was in the kitchen cooking,” she says.
After trying to sexually assault Burke’s stepsister and her friend, the molester was arrested. Burke says she testified against her abuser in court, helping send him to prison for nearly two decades.
“That was the scariest moment of my life,” she tells People about testifying.
Burke’s abuser is now out of prison and she is naturally worried about her safety.
“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 hopes that her story can help others. “If I can help just one person,” she says, “for me that’s all that matters.”
Season 12 of Dancing With The Stars begin in March.
For more on Burke’s story check out the new issue of People on newsstands this Friday.