“Dancing With the Stars” professional dancer Cheryl Burke is on Tuesday’s (Feb. 15) “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” where she talks candidly about her past abusive relationships, being molested as a child and the media’s criticism of her weight. She also divulges the fling she had with her “DWTS” partner Chad Ochocinco.
On dancing through the abusive relationships she was involved in:
Ellen: You talk about abusive relationships that you have been in the
past that you got yourself out of as well. Both physically and
Cheryl: Yeah, I went through a couple of abusive relationships during my
whole high school career and I think it just stems from my childhood.
But what really mattered most to me was dance and how dancing really
influenced me in so many ways. I just followed my passion. I never let
dancing down. It was my one true thing that I stayed loyal to that
really helped me get through the abuse.
On dealing with the abuse:
Ellen: And when you were in these relationships, one guy hit you with a
belt? That’s pretty bad. You would escape to dance? That’s how you dealt
Cheryl: I mean, I guess I could never really escape. That was one of the
scariest moments of my life when he did that and I think for me, I
didn’t turn to my parents right away. I felt ashamed. I didn’t know how
to talk about it. But I did talk to a friend and I eventually got out of
On being molested:
Ellen: You had a traumatic incident when you were five years old?
Cheryl: I was five years old when my family hired help to help us around
the house. My step-sister and I got molested by this man and I think
from that point on I had no self esteem. I had no self-confidence. I
didn’t know what to do. So I fell for these men who were unavailable to
me. The abuse was something I felt like I deserved and I continued go
back to that.
On the media scrutiny about her weight:
Ellen: You’re not over weight in the least and they’re saying you’re overweight. How did you deal with that?
Cheryl: It was really hard for me. I’m like every human being. It hurt.
At that time, I had to put a smile on my face. I was still in the middle
of a season. I had to act like nothing hurt me. At the same time, I
tried to starve myself. I tried to go and turn to diet pills but I knew
that wasn’t for me….It was very hurtful. I don’t think the media
understands how hurtful it is when you come out and say something about
Message to those in abusive relationships:
Cheryl: First of all, I want to say you’re not alone. There are many
people who go through similar situations. The best thing to do, if
you’re in the situation, you must talk about it whether it is to a
family member or friends or a priest or a therapist. It doesn’t matter, you have to get the message out here. And if you have a person coming to
you and saying she or he is getting abused, call the police. It is so
dangerous. You’re risking someone’s life.
Ellen: And if one person listens to you and doesn’t do anything about
it, talk to another person. If that person doesn’t do anything, talk to
another person. Keep talking to someone until someone listens and helps
you out. You deserve the help.
Cheryl: And you can always move on from it.
On rumors about Chad Ochocinco:
Ellen: You were denying that there was a romantic thing going on (with
partner Chad Ochocinco) but there was some kind of romantic thing going
Cheryl: I mean, we had a fling. We worked so much together. We had great
chemistry. But it was the same pattern I had in the past with my
boyfriends in the past. He was just really unavailable to me. I just
knew that didn’t work and I’ve moved on and he’s obviously moved on.
Ellen: Because he was dating other people at the same time? Is that right?
Cheryl: Well, you just look at his Twitter and see who he’s following and that speaks for itself.