Emotional Christine McGuinness reveals reason she split from Paddy

Emotional Christine McGuinness breaks down in tears as she reveals the reason she split from husband Paddy in Unmasking My Autism documentary

Christine McGuinness broke down in tears as she discussed 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, who all have autism. 

The model and TV star, 34, said during her new BBC documentary, Unmasking My Autism that she was able to leave her marriage following her diagnosis.

She said she had previously stayed in the marriage because it felt ‘safe’ at the time and she ‘doesn’t like change’, but they remain on amicable terms after deciding they were better off alone.

Christine said: ‘Starting life on my own is scary, I struggle making decisions. I was only 19 when I met Patrick and for the last 15 years my role has been wife and mum. When I was diagnosed, I set out on a journey to find out who I was.

Devastated: Christine McGuinness broke down in tears as she opened up about 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 all have autism (pictured in 2019) 

‘I have separated from my husband in the process, I’m shedding my old identity and finding out who I am.’ 

She continued: ‘I’ve only ever had this one man in my life, I don’t know what it is 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 discuss her autism, after being diagnosed last year. She said: ‘Being dressed with hair and makeup done is completely different to who I am on the inside. 

‘I have realised the power of pretending, when I was dressed up as a princess doing pageants. And being a model meant I had a role to play so I didn’t have to be me.’

It comes after Christine revealed her three children still do not know she and Paddy have split 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 they’re growing up in a happy and loving home – I just want it to continue like that.

‘We don’t know what the future holds but right now it works.

‘The thought of eventually co-parenting in separate houses is something I’m going to really struggle with.’

Christine – who has also been diagnosed with autism – often shares photos of her children to social media but makes sure to keep their faces hidden.

The interview comes after the star admitted she stayed in her marriage with Paddy because it felt ‘safe’ at the time and she ‘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 struggle making decisions’ 

Husband: The mother-of-three told how abusive previous partners left her craving security which she found with Paddy

Raising awareness: Christine’s three children; twins Penelope and Leo, age nine, and Felicity, seven, whom she shares with estranged husband Paddy, also have autism

Speaking in 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 realised she had masked her feelings.

She explained: ‘My relationships before I met Patrick were not very good. I’d say they were pretty bad experiences.

‘Before Patrick, I had been sexually abused, I was raped. I used to pray every night that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning because it was so awful.

‘When I met my husband that was a time when I was very safe and I wonder if that’s why I stayed.

‘I know that I’ve stayed in a place where I was probably unhappy because it was safe and I don’t like change.’ 

The reality star was sexually abused from the age of nine to 11 and raped when she was a teenager. 

In the programme, Christine revealed the trauma left her feeling suicidal and she would pray every night to not wake up in the morning. 

‘Just because it was so awful, it was just awful’, she said. ‘The abuse I suffered started when I was only nine-years-old and I wonder how many things in life could have been avoided if I had an earlier diagnosis and more support at school.’

Christine highlighted in her new documentary how the disorder can make individuals more vulnerable to sexual abuse. 

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

Clinical director at the National Autistic Society, Dr Sarah Lister Book says a large number of autistic women and girls report experiences of sexual assault – whether that be coercive, physical or sexual abuse. 

‘This is a serious and deeply concerning issue’, Dr Brook adds. 

Christine wants to see better education for autistic girls – especially when it comes to understanding consent. 

Rosie Creer, the clinical director of Respond, an abuse support charity for autistic people and people with learning disabilities, says one of the reasons autistic women can be at risk of sexual abuse as they are left out of friendship groups growing up. 

Others issues are difficulties with communicating, feeling the need to please and the lack of education about consent. 

‘There have been times in my life where I desperately wanted a friend’, Christine said and added while it is ‘frightening’ to hear how autistic women and girls are vulnerable to sexual abuse, it is a ‘very important’ topic to raise awareness about. 

‘For parents and carers to be more aware is a positive thing. I don’t want it to scare or upset anybody, I just want people to be more aware that this is quite common, unfortunately,’ she said. 

Reflecting: Speaking on her new documentary on the BBC – 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 separation last year, revealing they would continue living together for the sake of their three autistic children.

Christine and Paddy insisted their upbringing remains a top priority.

In a joint statement, they wrote: ‘We hadn’t planned on sharing this publicly until we were ready but after the lack of privacy surrounding our personal life, we feel left with no other option but to clarify.

‘A while ago we took the difficult decision to separate but our main focus as always is to continue loving and supporting our children.

‘This was not an easy decision to make but we’re moving forward as the best parents we can be for our three beautiful children. We’ll always be a loving family, we still have a great relationship and still live happily in our family home together.

‘We hope this now draws a line under anymore unwanted and unnecessary intrusion into our private life.

‘Although we work in the public eye we ask kindly if you could respect our wishes for privacy on this matter. We’ll be making no further comment.’

A source told MailOnline at the time: ‘Paddy and Christine have given everything to their marriage over the years.

‘Sadly, they have made the tough decision to part ways for the sake of their young family, who they will continue to co-parent together.

‘It’s been no secret within their inner circle that it’s been a difficult few years for them as a couple but they still very much support each other and will continue to do so throughout their separation.’ 

 For confidential support call Rape Crisis England & Wales on 0808 802 9999 or visit rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help for more details

Important: She previously appeared in a programme alongside estranged husband Paddy, focused on their three children, who have been diagnosed with autism


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with autism have trouble with social, emotional and communication skills that usually develop before the age of three and last throughout a person’s life. 

Specific signs of autism include: 

  • Reactions to smell, taste, look, feel or sound are unusual
  • Difficulty adapting to changes in routine
  • Unable to repeat or echo what is said to them
  • Difficulty expressing desires using words or motions
  • Unable to discuss their own feelings or other people’s
  • Difficulty with acts of affection like hugging
  • Prefer to be alone and avoid eye contact
  • Difficulty relating to other people
  • Unable to point at objects or look at objects when others point to them

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