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Cheryl Burke is opening up about past abusive relationships she ended up in during her teenage years and early twenties.
The "Dancing with the Stars" pro delved into the personal topic in a new video on her YouTube account titled "My Experience with Abusive Relationships."
In the lengthy video, Burke, 36, admits she was previously "addicted" to dating toxic men, and had a history of sleeping with boyfriends in her adolescent years because she felt like she "had to."
The ballroom dancer also touched on past sexual abuse she endured as a child from a babysitter, and how her lack of conversations with family members about healthy dating habits may have contributed to her troubling patterns later on in life.
Burke, who is now married to actor Matthew Lawrence, explained she was sharing her personal struggle so that she can help others who may be dealing with similar pain and trauma.
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"I want to share my experiences with all of you because I hope in turn it can help anyone who may have experienced something similar to know there is hope on the other side. As an adult, I've just put a ton of time into learning more about mental health, forgiveness and healing. That is the reason why I am able to be sitting here today talking to you guys about all of this," she said.
‘Dancing with the Stars’ pro Cheryl Burke opens up about past abusive relationships she endured and how she’s overcomed them in a video shared to her YouTube channel.
(Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images)
Burke details a couple of relationships she had in high school, noting that she lost her virginity with her first boyfriend at the age of 13. A second relationship that followed involved the dancer being cheated on by a man who had a child with another woman.
"After the sexual abuse I experienced with our driver, babysitter, I used to think these are the types of people I deserve to be with. I didn't associate sex with intimacy or love, honestly. It was something I did because I felt like I had to in a way just to keep a boyfriend and feel safe and loved. This was clearly horrible," Burke shared. "I had no self respect or self love for myself. I now see how wrong this whole thing was."
However, the TV star praised her husband for being "the complete opposite of everything bad about my past relationships." After years of therapy, she said she is now "grateful" for the hardships because it made her who she is today.
"When I look back at this time in my life, I could sit here and say that I wish these things never happened to me, but I look at it now that every part of my story has helped me to become the woman I am today," she said. "Sure, it would have been better to not go through some of these things but I'm not sure I would be the same person if I hadn't. Today I am someone who is really confident using her voice and comfortable sticking up for myself."
She also urged anyone currently in an abusive situation to seek out help from a therapist, loved one, or friend.
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"Just find someone you can trust and talk to and know you are not alone," said Burke. "I am living proof that where you are in life right now does not need to be where you are forever."
If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.
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