Christine McGuinness broke down in tears when discussing her and ex-husband Paddy’s split, saying she finds it “petrifying” to start a “new chapter” on her own.
The former couple, who announced they were separating last July, are parents to twins Penelope and Leo, nine, and Felicity, six, all with autism.
The 34-year-old model and TV star said during her new BBC documentary, Unmasking My Autism, that she was able to leave her marriage following her diagnosis.
Christine said: ‘Starting a life on my own is scary, I have a hard time making decisions. I was only 19 years old when I met Patrick and for the last 15 years my role has been that of wife and mother. When I was diagnosed, I went on a journey to find out who I was.
“I have separated from my husband in the process, I am shedding my old identity and discovering who I am.”
Devastated: Christine McGuinness broke down in tears when discussing her and ex-husband Paddy’s split, saying she finds it ‘petrifying’ to start a ‘new chapter’ on her own
Exes: The former couple, who announced they were separating last July, are parents to twins Penelope and Leo, nine, and Felicity, six, who have autism (pictured in 2019)
She continued: ‘I’ve only had this one man in my life, I don’t know what it’s like to date, I can’t imagine being single or with another man. But I’m going into a new chapter on my own, which is petrifying for someone who doesn’t like change.
Christine went on to open up about her autism, having been diagnosed last year. She said: ‘Being dressed with hair and makeup done is completely different to who I am on the inside.
‘I realized the power of pretending, when I was dressed as a princess in pageants. And being a model meant that she had a role to play, so it didn’t have to be me.
It comes after Christine revealed that her three children are still unaware that she and Paddy have broken up.
Speaking to Woman’s Own, Christine told how she and Paddy, 49, still live together with their children in the family home.
She said: ‘The children don’t know any different and are growing up in a happy and loving home; I just want it to continue like this.
‘We don’t know what the future holds, but right now it works.
“The idea of eventually co-parenting in separate homes is something I’m really going to struggle with.”
Christine, who has also been diagnosed with autism, often shares photos of her children on social media, but makes sure to keep their faces hidden.
The interview comes after the star admitted that he stayed in his marriage to Paddy because he felt “safe” at the time and “doesn’t like change”.
Tough: The model and TV star said during her new BBC documentary, Unmasking My Autism: “Starting life on my own is scary, I have a hard time making decisions.”
Husband: The mother of three recounted how her abusive previous partners left her longing for the safety she found with Paddy
Raising awareness: Christine’s three children; Twins Penelope and Leo, 9, and Felicity, 7, whom she shares with her husband Paddy, also have autism.
Speaking on her BBC documentary Unmasking My Autism, Christine said she felt safe when she met the presenter when she was 19.
But after her autism diagnosis two years ago, she realized she had masked her feelings.
She explained: ‘My relationships before I met Patrick weren’t very good. I would say they were pretty bad experiences.
‘Before Patrick, I had been sexually abused, I was raped. She used to pray every night that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning because it was horrible.
‘When I met my husband, it was a moment where I was very sure and I wonder if that’s why I stayed.
“I know I’ve stayed somewhere where I probably wasn’t happy because it was safe and I don’t like change.”
The reality star was sexually abused from the ages of nine to 11 and raped as a teenager.
On the show, Christine revealed that the trauma left her feeling suicidal and that she prayed every night that she wouldn’t wake up in the morning.
“Just because it was so horrible, it was just horrible,” he said. ‘The abuse I suffered started when I was only nine years old and I wonder how many things in life could have been prevented if I had an earlier diagnosis and more support at school.’
Christine highlighted in her new documentary how the disorder can make people more vulnerable to sexual abuse.
A 2022 study, an online survey that spoke to 225 people, suggests that nearly nine in 10 autistic women have been victims of “sexual violence,” reports the BBC.
Clinical director of the National Autism Society, Dr. Sarah Lister Book, says a large number of autistic women and girls report experiences of sexual assault, whether it is coercive, physical or sexual abuse.
“This is a serious and deeply concerning issue,” adds Dr. Brook.
Christine wants to see better education for autistic girls, especially when it comes to understanding consent.
Rosie Creer, clinical director of Respond, an abuse support charity for autistic people and people with learning disabilities, says one reason autistic women may be at risk of sexual abuse is that they are left out of friendship groups growing up.
Other problems include difficulties communicating, feeling the need to please, and lack of education about consent.
“There were times in my life where I desperately wanted a friend,” Christine said, adding. While it is ‘scary’ to hear how autistic women and girls are vulnerable to sexual abuse, it is a ‘very important’ issue to raise awareness about.
‘For parents and carers, being more aware is a positive thing. I don’t want to scare or upset anyone, I just want to make people more aware that this is quite common, unfortunately,” she said.
On reflection: Speaking about her new BBC documentary, Unmasking My Autism, Christine said she felt safe when she met Paddy, now 49, when she was 19.
Paddy and Christine took to Instagram to confirm their split last year, revealing that they would continue to live together for the sake of their three autistic children.
Christine and Paddy insisted that their education remains a priority.
In a joint statement, they wrote: “We had not planned to share this publicly until we were ready, but after the lack of privacy surrounding our personal lives, we felt we had no choice but to come clean.”
‘Some time ago we made the difficult decision to separate but our main focus as always is to continue to love and support our children.
“It was not an easy decision to make, but we are moving forward as the best parents we can be to our three beautiful children. We will always be a loving family, we still have a great relationship and we still live happily together in our family home.
“We hope this will now put an end to further unwanted and unnecessary intrusions into our private lives.
‘Although we work in full view of the public, we kindly ask that you respect our wishes for privacy in this matter. We will not make any further comments.
A source told MailOnline at the time: ‘Paddy and Christine have given their all for their marriage over the years.
“Unfortunately, they have made the difficult decision to separate for the sake of their young family, which they will continue to parent together.
“It has been no secret within their inner circle that it has been a difficult few years for them as a couple, but they are still very supportive of each other and will continue to do so throughout their separation.”
For confidential assistance, call Rape Crisis England & Wales on 0808 802 9999 or visit rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help for more details.
Note: She previously appeared on a show with her husband Paddy, focused on their three children, who have been diagnosed with autism.
THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF AUTISM
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with autism have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills that typically develop before the age of three and last a person’s lifetime.
Specific signs of autism include:
- Reactions to smell, taste, appearance, touch, or sound are unusual
- Difficulty adapting to changes in routine.
- Unable to repeat or echo what is said to them.
- Difficulty expressing wishes using words or movements.
- Unable to talk about their own feelings or those of other people.
- Difficulty with acts of affection such as hugging
- He prefers to be alone and avoid eye contact.
- Difficulty relating to other people.
- Unable to point to objects or look at objects when others point to them