Christine McGuinness opens up about autism diagnosis and sexual abuse

The Liverpool model was diagnosed with autism in 2021.

Model and TV personality, Christine McGuinness, has opened up about her autism diagnosis, sexual abuse and battle with mental illness.

In a new BBC documentary, the 34-year-old up discusses being diangosed with autism at the age of 33, and how this gave her understanding of the struggles she faced as a child, teenager, and during her marriage with Paddy McGuinness.

Christine had sensory issues from childhood, which later led to an eating disorder, and she struggled to keep focus at school, leaving at 14 without any qualifications. She told the BBC: “I was a very confused, mixed-up little teenager not really knowing where I fitted in.”

She was also sexually abused from age nine to 11 and then raped at 14. She said as a result she would pray every night to not wake up in the morning.

According to Dr Sarah Lister Brook, clinical director at the National Autistic Society, a large number of autistic women and girls report experiences of sexual assault, which can take the form of coercive, physical or sexual abuse.

A 2022 online survey that spoke to 225 people suggests nearly nine in 10 autistic women have been victims of ‘sexual violence’, reports the BBC.

In the documentary, Christine also said she felt more able to leave her relationship with Paddy McGuinness after getting her autism diagnosis, and said she had stayed because she felt safe and did not like change.

While Christine is pleased with her life now, like many people who receive diagnoses of autism or other neurodivergencies as an adult, she said she sometimes wonders if her life might have taken a different course if she’d been diagnosed earlier.

Christine McGuiness at the NTAs. Image: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Christine McGuiness at the NTAs. Image: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Christine McGuiness at the NTAs. Image: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Christine’s three children; twins Penelope and Leo, age nine, and Felicity, seven, also have autism and she hopes the documentary will raise awareness on the subject.

How to watch the new documentary

Christine McGuinness: Unmasking My Autism will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer and BBC One at 21:00 on Wednesday, March 15.