‘I’d pray every night that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning,’ said model and TV personality in new documentary about autism
Model and TV personality Christine McGuinness has discussed the sexual abuse she suffered as a child in her new documentary, Unmasking My Autism.
In the special, Christine speaks to specialists who told her that many women with autism have experienced domestic or sexual violence in relationships.
The Real Housewives of Cheshire star then opened up about her own experiences, having been sexually abused aged nine to 11, and raped when she was 14.
Christine, who was diagnosed with the condition in 2021, said: “I experienced that and I didn’t speak up, and I wonder if I never said it because I was autistic.
“Was it me? Would a neurotypical woman have said something? Is it my fault? How did I find myself there? All of those questions.”
She explained: “It’s something I experienced when I was a teenager, and then when I met my husband [Take Me Out presenter Paddy McGuinness], that was a time where I felt very safe and I wonder that’s why I stayed in that relationship for 15 years.”
Christine, who announced her split from Paddy last summer, was asked if she felt more able to leave the presenter after her autism diagnosis.
“Yeah,” she said, “because I know that I’ve stayed in a place where I was probably unhappy because it was safe and I don’t like change and ultimately I wanted to keep my family together.”
The couple share three children, all of whom have autism. They made a documentary about the experience of raising autistic children in 2021.
“My relationships before Patrick were not very good,” Christine said in the new documentary.
“I’d say they were all pretty bad experiences. I don’t know how to say it. Before Patrick, I had been sexually abused. I was raped. I used to pray, and it’s sad now when I think about it, I’d pray every night that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. I just didn’t want to live, just because it was so awful. It was just awful.”
Discussing her experiences in an interview with BBC News, McGuinness said that she hadn’t wanted to live after the assault and abuse “just because it was so awful”.
In her 2021 book A Beautiful Nightmare, Christine wrote about being raped by a classmate at a house party at the age of 13.
She also alleged she was subjected to sexual abuse by an adult close to her family between the ages of nine and 13, who would make her watch violent and sexual videos.
One 2022 study suggests that nearly nine in 10 autistic women have been victims of “sexual violence”, with two thirds of victims “very young when they were first assaulted”.
Christine McGuinness: Unmasking My Autism airs Wednesday 15 March at 9pm on BBC One and is on BBC iPlayer now.
If you are a child and you need help because something has happened to you, you can call the NSPCC free of charge on 0800 1111. You can also call the NSPCC if you are an adult and you are worried about a child, on 0808 800 5000. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) offers support for adults on 0808 801 0331
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, the Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.
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