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    Shawn Johnson Says Dancing Kept Her Sane During Stalking Ordeal

    Who says reality shows don't help better society?

    Certainly not Shawn Johnson, who actually credits her championship participation in Dancing With the Stars for helping her get her through her terrifying stalking ordeal.

    "Things definitely changed," she said of her run on the show, telling Good Morning America that she was forced to change apartments, dance studios and cars after insanity-pleading stalker Robert O'Ryan was arrested.

    "I think sticking with Dancing With the Stars—I was given the option to pull out and go home, but I decided to stay with it," she said. "I think having that sense of family, keeping something normal, gave me something to focus on and not think about it.

    "Everybody at Dancing With the Stars was great, all the guys were like, 'We'll take care of you, we'll watch over you.'"

    And one of those guys in particular took on a surprisingly protective role. Which no doubt proved good practice for his next season run.

    "He was like my big brother," she said of the otherwise chest-puffing Maksim Chmerkovskiy. "He came over to me and was like, 'I'll take care of you, I won't let anybody get you.'"

    The show as a whole, she said, "distracted me from everything else going on."

    And there was a lot.

    Johnson was called to testify in her stalker's trial and was terrified of facing him for the first time in court, but somehow found the courage to persevere.

    "I had to. I had to go up there. I didn't want to. I kept asking if I could stay in the back room or go home, but it's something I had to do. I had to stand up for everybody else out there that's been through it. There are people out there who aren't as lucky as me that actually face them and I just had to go there and kind of help put him away and help anybody else he might have gone after."

    And terrible as it was, Johnson, currently back in training for the 2012 Olympics, has found at least one empowering benefit from the experience.

    "Before all this happened, I thought I was invincible. I thought nothing like this could happen to me and nothing would happen, but it was a reality check...It happens. A lot of people go through it, and you just need to realize you can do something about it."

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    Sadly, Shawn's not the only star with an unwanted suitor. Check out our Stars With Stalkers gallery.

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