One DWTS Pro Opens Up About Mental Health Struggles

Dancing With the Stars


A Dancing With the Stars pro recently opened up about her sex and love addiction and the therapy she’s in to work on her issues. On her “Pretty Messed Up” podcast, Cheryl Burke was incredibly open and vulnerable about her journey in recovery and the “intense therapy” she has been in for a long time.

Burke Said She and Her Husband Are In Therapy About It

My Experience with Abusive RelationshipsHi guys! Today I wanted to talk about something a bit more serious, and go through my experiences of past abusive relationships. I know this can get a little dark sometimes, but I feel it's important to share this part of my life, especially for anyone else that is going through something similar. If you…2020-12-11T17:00:16Z

During an episode of “Pretty Messed Up,” Burke and her co-hosts AJ McLean and Rene Elizondo interviewed Brianne Davis, actress and author of “Secret Life of a Hollywood Sex and Love Addict,” where they talked about what love and sex addiction is and how Davis’ podcast “Secret Life” has really opened Burke’s eyes to some things.

“I’ve been listening to your podcast, Brianne, and I love how open and vulnerable you are. It’s actually opened up my eyes because everything you say about sex and love addiction, I’m like — oh, wait a second. I’m thinking maybe I’m a sex and love addict,” said Burke.

As part of the podcast, Davis pointed the hosts to an online assessment they can take about sex and love addiction, which the three hosts then took in preparation for their next episode.

On the next episode, Burke revealed that she took the assessment with her therapist and taking it brought up “all of these feelings” for Burke.

“Basically, for me, I’ve never really understood what love and sex addicts, what does that entail … I took the test and I might as well just let you guys know I did it twice, pretending I was 13 through 32 before I started my recovery and before therapy, and I then I did it again now. Out of 40 questions, the first 13-30 version of Cheryl, that was 39 out of 40. Present moment, I think it’s 12 out of 40,” revealed Burke.

She also said that she still has to catch herself because “it’s so much easier to go to [destructive behavior] than basically to reprogram your brain and be mindful of what you’re doing.”

Burke has been very open about her journey as a recovering alcoholic and Davis said that people who are recovering from drug or alcohol abuse often find that underneath the substance abuse issues are issues like “fear of abandonment, fear of bieng alone, fear of not being worthy of getting love.”

“My husband and I are in therapy for this reason, because of abandonment issues that I feel sometimes, jealousy. I’m starting to feel all these feelings … I’ve been in intense therapy since I was four years old,” said Burke.

Burke married actor Matthew Lawrence in May 2019. In an interview with Good Morning America, Burke called Lawrence her “rock,” saying, “I don’t know where I would be without him.”

Burke Has Spoken Publicly About Her History of Sexual Abuse and Abusive Relationships

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In her autobiography “Dancing Lessons,” Burke wrote openly about being sexually abused at age 5 by a handyman who was hired to help her family. She and her sister, who was also abused, testified against him and he eventually went to prison.

In a YouTube video about the experience, Burke said she didn’t know what to do about what was happening to her.

“All the adults in my life, I guess, just had no idea … he had groomed me in a way that I didn’t know for sure that what was happening to me was wrong,” said Burke, adding, “The abuse had gone on almost daily for a couple of years in my life.”

She went on to say that she gets angry even now thinking about it and it took years to feel like it wasn’t her fault.

“I don’t think you can really heal, and I truly believe this, until you’re not carrying that burden around inside your heart anymore,” said Burke. “For me, healing has been a process, to say the last. A process that has really involved constant work, daily work, a lot of therapy, and a lot of self-reflection really. And honestly, thank God for dancing because for me, being able to express myself through movement has really played a huge role.”

“I wish I could say I’m fine now and I’m healed … but that just would be a straight-up lie. There are definitely still some days when I wake up and I feel super depressed … and I really just have to continue to work to pull myself out of that place,” said Burke.

Dancing With the Stars has not yet officially been renewed for season 30, but if ABC does renew it, expect it to premiere in September 2021.

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