Cheryl Burke is reflecting on her traumatic past relationships.
The “Dancing with the Stars” competitive dancer appeared on Wednesday’s episode of “Red Table Talk” where she opened up about her past with trauma, abuse, and toxic relationships.
Burke, who is fresh out of her divorce with her ex Matthew Lawrence, shared bombshell reveals about her past relationships which developed from what psychologist Dr. Alfiee Breland Noble described as “trauma bonding”.
“With trauma bonding, both of you are bringing into the relationship past unresolved traumas,” explained Noble. “A lot of people, what they see growing up — that’s the model for how they form relationships.”
Burke agreed with the concept, as she revealed how her ideas around relationships were modeled after her early relationships.
She opened up about how she was abused as a child by a babysitter in the middle of her parents’ traumatic divorce.
“This is what love equaled, right? Seeing my father’s infidelity, being abused by this old retired mailman, and I didn’t really know what a ‘healthy’ relationship is or was. There wasn’t a stable father figure in my life,” explained Burke. “It’s like brainwashing at those moments in your childhood when it really matters. So this happened for many years and no one said anything, other than my older sister’s friend who did the right thing, ran home to her parents, and told them, and then they contacted my family. And I actually testified against him at nine, I believe.”
These experiences led the dancer to be attracted to men with toxic behaviour similar to the male figures in her life.
“I just was not attracted to the nice guy. I’ll never forget my very first competitive dance partner,” she recalled. “So sweet. I was so disgusted by how sweet he was, and I was only attracted to chauvinistic men.”
She added, “It feels like home.”
While her first dance partner may have been kind, the 38-year-old said not everyone in the competitive dancer world was like him.
“I mean, thank God for dancing. It saved my life. 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,” said Burke. “And with that comes abusive partners and abusive coaches. And, 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.”
As she came to all these revelations about her past patterns, the dancer admitted she was choosing to focus on herself for now, especially after celebrating four years of sobriety.
“I’m choosing to not date. Date myself, right?” she shared. “Easier said than done because, you know, there’s a difference of being alone versus lonely. And I am just trying to adjust and take the time because I owe it to myself. But one day at a time, one minute at a time.”