“Dancing with the Star” pro Cheryl Burke is reflecting on her conflicting feelings about the world of dance.
In a clip from Tuesday’s episode of “Red Table Talk,” shared exclusively with USA TODAY, Burke looked back on her early years of ballroom dancing, which she says “saved my life.” However, she also acknowledged the abusive and misogynistic behaviors that came with it.
“Ballroom was something fun but it was something where you have to grow up fast, because here I am wearing tiny skimpy dance costumes, eyelashes, fake tan and I’m 11,” Burke says.
Within the industry of competitive ballroom, she says it’s “very much a man’s world.”
“The man leads. The woman follows— off the dance floor and on the dance floor. And with that comes with abusive partners and abusive coaches. And were there acts of sexual and mental abuse? 100%,” she continued, adding that she is ‘just coming to realize that now.”
The upcoming “Red Table Talk” episode premieres on Facebook Watch on Wednesday at noon ET.
Burke has talked openly about her experiences with childhood and sexual abuse. In TLC’s 2015 documentary “Breaking the Silence,” Burke revealed she was molested when she was 5 during the midst of her parents’ “traumatic” divorce.
“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 said at the time, according to People.
Later, Burke detailed abusive relationships with former boyfriends last year in a video uploaded onto her YouTube channel. While traveling independently for dance competitions, she says she lost her virginity to her first boyfriend at age 13, which she says was not abusive at all, but “that experience set me up to really just stick with a pattern of moving way too fast.”
During another high school relationship, she recalled “sneaking around with him…and him having sex with me after telling him I didn’t want to and it ended pretty forcefully.”
She added, “I didn’t associate sex with intimacy or love. Honestly, it was something that I did because I felt like I had to, in a way, just to keep a boyfriend.”
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, RAINN offers support through the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE & online.rainn.org).
Story Credit: usatoday.com