Rihanoff tells of childhood abuse
Strictly Come Dancing star Kristina Rihanoff has told how she suffered verbal abuse at home as a child and sought an escape in dance.
She spoke out as she was unveiled as a trustee of a new charity, the Dot Com Children's Foundation, which aims to stop abuse and violence against children.
Kristina helped the charity to promote its education programme, Values Versus Violence, which teaches youngsters about appropriate behaviour, as well as how they should ask for help if they are victims.
The Russian performer said: "I grew up in a very dysfunctional family when my parents were very abusive with words towards the children and towards me - fighting all the time - and basically my home wasn't my home.
"I never wanted to be there. My dance school was my form of escape. That's where I wanted to be as a child and my dancing, which is my passion, is the only way I could express myself when I was a child as I felt very unloved, neglected by my parents.
"Lots of people see me as a very confident person and maybe I am on the stage, but not in real life. I have lots of insecurities and a low self value because of the way I was brought up."
The foundation has worked with 33,000 youngsters in primary schools in London, Birmingham, Merseyside and Manchester, distributing information packs about its educational project.
Dot Com's chief executive Sharon Evans said: "Kristina and I grew up with violence in our homes and I suffered sexual abuse - what we had in common was that we didn't know how to ask for help.
" I hope it will become a model for other local authorities to follow across the capital."