Charlie Webster has opened up for the first time about the sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager under the care of her athletics trainer.
The 31-year-old TV star was initially speaking to Radio 5 live’s Phil Williams about the 250-mile, seven-day marathon she is about to embark on, which will see her run between 40 football grounds to raise money for charity Women’s Aid.
But during the interview, she decided to “break the taboo about abuse as a whole” and waive her right to anonymity about the string of assaults that she suffered at the age of 15.
“I got quite close to the running coach because you do,” she said.
“You start to trust them when you're a young kid, and he started to take me for a few private sessions because he said I was good and I could do with some extra sessions because that would really help.
"He abused the fact that I was an innocent person who wanted his support and his compassion and his care as my running coach."
The athletics coach in question was sentenced to 10 years in jail and has remained on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.
"He was a male role model to me," Webster continued.
"You should never touch a young girl anyway, but he very, very manipulatively and very slowly sexually assaulted me."
She admitted that she kept the information to herself at first, because she was unaware how it could be reported.
"I didn't understand. I really lacked confidence. I didn't know what he was doing was wrong.
"Not one time in my head did I think 'I'm being sexually assaulted', because if I did, I would have done something about it."
Sexual abuse at the time, she said, was "one of these taboos, like domestic abuse is now".
In the end, Webster was only encouraged to come forward after a younger girl recorded the abuse and contacted the police.
"That's why I'm here [speaking on radio] as well," she said. "It might help someone else bring it to light. I want to break the taboo about abuse as a whole."
Webster starts her 250-mile run on Sunday 26 January.
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