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Julianne Hough is opening up about her surprisingly painful past.

The dancer/actress plays a domestic abuse survivor in the upcoming movie Safe Haven, and reveals to Cosmopolitan that the role hit close to home.

Hough, who moved from Utah to England when she was only 10 to pursue a career as a dancer, admits she was sexualized at far too young an age.

Julianne Hough in 2021

“I was 10 years old looking like I was 28, being a very sensual dancer. I was a tormented little kid who had to put on a sexy facade,” she admits.

 

“Because that was my job and my life,” says the now-24-year-old. “But my heart was the same, and I was this innocent little girl. I wanted so much love.”

“While I was in London, I was abused, mentally, physically, everything. I’m a very forgiving person, and I don’t want to hurt anybody. What’s past is past.”

Hough, who’s dated Ryan Seacrest for two years, says it got worse “when I started hitting puberty, when I started becoming a woman and stopped being a little girl.”

“I was told if I ever went back to the United States, three things were going to happen. One: I was going to amount to nothing. Two: I was going to work at Whataburger.”

“Three: I was going to end up a slut. So it was like, I can’t go back, I have to be this person.”

Why not reach out to her family?

“I’d rather take the pressure on myself. To this day, I don’t want to be a burden. I didn’t talk unless I was spoken to. I would look over to see if it was okay if I answered.”

“I was perfect … perfect to a fault.”

At the age of 15, Hough, who declined to name or even hint at the abuser’s identity. went to a concert and saw one of her idols perform a set of songs.

The songs, about being free and being yourself, gave her the courage to leave.

“I was like, f**k that. I know who I am, and I don’t want to be this person who I am becoming,” she says. “I left two days later and never went back.”

Hough explains that her latest role inspired her to go public: “I don’t want pity. To me it’s more about being that voice for people who don’t necessarily have a voice.”