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Strictly star Ben Cohen’s ex-wife Abby says curse did her a ‘favour’

Abby Cohen suffered two mental breakdowns following the breakdown of her 23-year relationship with former rugby player Ben in 2013, after he left her for dance partner Kristina Rihanoff

Abby Cohen was left devastated when husband Ben left her for his Strictly dance partner Kristina

Strictly Come Dancing star Ben Cohen’s ex-wife Abby has said the curse did her a “favour” as she watched her marriage “disintegrate” during the show.

The former rugby player took part in the hit BBC One series back in 2013, and he was paired with professional dancer Kristina Rihanoff.

But Ben and Abby, who share twin daughters Harriette and Isabelle, fell victim to the ‘Strictly curse’ and they split months after he competed in the show, with the sportsman telling his wife he was leaving her in September 2014.

Ben and Kristina went public with their romance shortly afterwards, with the Russian dancer insisting that they didn’t begin dating until his marriage was over.

Now, Abby has broken her silence over the breakdown of her marriage, and has revealed she can’t listen to the iconic Strictly theme tune as it brings back awful memories of watching her 23-year relationship “disintegrate” before her eyes.

Ben and Abby were together for 23 years


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The childhood sweethearts, pictured here in 2003, share twin daughters

The mother-of-two wrote a lengthy op-ed for New! magazine, in which she wrote about the beginnings of her romance with childhood sweetheart Ben, and how he’d jumped at the chance to appear on Strictly in an effort to take his career “in a different direction”.

However, Abby admitted she now regrets the decision, as “Strictly, showbiz and all the sequins” led to the end of her marriage.

She was seen every week in the Strictly audience, cheering on Ben, but she revealed she was “terrified” and out of her comfort zone seeing her husband perform romantic and saucy dance routines with dance partner Kristina.

But looking back at her old self, Abby said she didn’t recognise the “frightened woman” sat in the audience, and admitted the show “did me a favour in the long run”.

Ben and Kristina Rihanoff met in 2013



Ben and Kristina welcomed daughter Mila in 2016



Ben and Kristina were voted off the show after eight weeks, and Abby said she was fighting for her marriage “for months” following his Strictly exit, because they were “growing in different directions.”

And when he finally announced he was leaving her in September 2014, one year after making his debut on the show and pairing up with Kristina, Abby confessed she suffered two breakdowns.

“I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I often couldn’t get out of bed,” she recalled, adding that she also had debilitating panic attacks that left her lying on the floor sweating.

After grieving the end of her marriage, Abby said she began to feel better once she and her daughters moved out of the family home they once shared with Ben.

But her heart was broken once again when Ben and Kristina announced they had welcomed a daughter, Mila, together, and Abby was left devastated.

Abby now runs a successful photography business and has launched a TV career

She’s also found love with hunky new boyfriend David

However, she decided to focus on her photography, and “slowly broke the cycle of obsessing over what had happened”, and is now happier and more confident than she was during her marriage to Ben.

She’s even landed a co-hosting gig on the Amazon Prime show The Updaters, and her photography business is going from strength to strength.

“Ben doesn’t really know the person I’ve become – but I prefer her! I’m happier in my own skin and I’m not the broken girl who used to be married to a famous rugby player,” Abby powerfully stated.

And she had some advice for all the potential couples who may fall victim to the Strictly curse this year, as she reassured them that while a public breakdown of their relationship might be “torture”, they are “stronger than they think”.

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