Cheryl Burke Discusses ‘Sexual Abuse’ in Ballroom Dancing on ‘Red Table Talk’

Cheryl Burke discusses sexual abuse in ballroom dancing on the Nov. 2, 2022 episode of Red Table Talk. (Credit: Facebook Watch)

Cheryl Burke got candid on Red Table Talk about the severe trauma she’s experienced throughout her life.

Wednesday’s episode of the Facebook Watch series focused on “trauma bonding” — toxic patterns learned while growing up that can poison relationships later in life.

Burke detailed enduring years of sexual and mental abuse, starting when she was a small child.

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The Dancing With the Stars professional dancer told hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield Norris, and psychologist Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble that she was molested by an elderly family friend.

“It was more of a grooming experience,” she said. “There were moments, and I’m gonna say it now, it didn’t feel bad. It was actually intimate. He was grooming me, and he was my definition of love.”

Burke learned she was not the retired mailman’s only victim and he was eventually sentenced to 24 years in prison.

She turned to ballroom dancing as an outlet, but said she experienced sexual and mental abuse within the industry as well.

“I mean, thank God for dancing. It saved my life,” she said. “But within this industry of the competitive ballroom world, it is 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 abusive partners and abusive coaches. Were there acts of sexual abuse and mental abuse? 100 percent. And am I just coming to realize that? Yeah, for sure, as I continue to do the work.”

Burke noted that childhood trauma led to her alcohol addiction. But she said having conversations about the abuse “takes the shame away.”

You can watch the full episode of Red Table Talk below.