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Cheryl Burke Gets Brutally Honest About Abuse

LOS ANGELES (ET/CBS) - Pro dancer and Atherton native, Cheryl Burke of "Dancing with the Stars" is discussing a painful period from her past with ET's Nancy O'Dell.

VIDEO: Cheryl Burke With Nancy O'Dell

The dancer recalls how, at age five, she and her sister were sexually abused by a retired mailman, and at age six, she had to testify against him in court. She tells Nancy of the painful memory, "I was really young. I do remember being in court, so nervous, him right in front of me. I couldn't even look at him." The man was locked away, but Cheryl says that he's now back out on the streets. She points out, "But what's a little creepy is that he could be watching television and seeing me on 'Dancing with the Stars.' But, for me, you know, I've let that go. I am not going to let him ruin who I am today. I just need to move on from it."

Nancy asks Cheryl, "How much has that affected the way you are with men now? In your relationships now?"

Cheryl, who says that she's currently single, responds, "Well it definitely affected my relationships in high school. I've had a couple of abusive relationships in high school. It was just that feeling of no self worth, no self esteem. That feeling of, 'Please don't leave me, no matter what you do to me.' I had no self-respect for myself. And I continue to fall in love with unavailable men. ... But at the end of the day, it's still a work in progress for me. You know, I am seeing a therapist -- I owe that to myself. That's something I really need to do constantly, every single week."

Cheryl and Nancy also discuss body image issues, and Cheryl says she's learned to embrace her body: "I love the way I move. I think that's one thing I have always been confident about, is my dancing, since I was a little girl. And I think that's why dancing has really shaped my life." She notes, "And I think now, I am starting to really embrace my curves. And really feel, that okay, you know what, who cares what anyone else says, I know I'm beautiful and that's all that matters."

Cheryl discusses these issues and more in her new book, Dancing Lessons, available now.

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