Although Julianne Hough has a reputation for having a contagious personality, it seems that not everything in her life has been perfect.
In “Safe Haven,” the actress stars the 24-year-old as a victim of domestic violence. She opens up to Cosmopolitan about the physical and psychological trauma she experienced as a young dancer in London.
When she was ten years old, her parents had divorced, and Julianne moved abroad to be with her elder brother Derek Hough, who was enrolled in dance classes at London’s renowned Italia Conti Academy of the Arts.
They created a kiddie pop band after meeting Mark Ballas, a future castmate on “Dancing With the Stars” (2B1G). But as Hough revealed to Cosmo, the odd grownups she was surrounded by had abused her throughout her stay in London.
“While I was in London. I was abused, mentally, physically, everything,” Hough tells Cosmopolitan magazine (quote via People).
She was 10 years old and living in London at the time, studying dance at the prestigious academy while her parents remained in Utah. “I was 10 years old looking like I was 28, being a very sensual dancer,” Hough recalls.
Still, the hoofer proved to be a focused and determined pro even at a young age, as she struggled to keep her head held high amid the painful circumstances.
“I was a tormented little kid who had to put on this sexy façade because that was my job and my life,” she says. “But my heart was the same, and I was this innocent little girl. I wanted so much love.”
Although Hough declines to name her tormenters, she does offer, “I’m a very forgiving person, and I don’t want to hurt anybody. What’s past is past.”
The “Dancing With the Stars” cast member explains that she’s not looking for anyone’s pity, but decided to open up about her own experiences to be a voice for those who don’t have one. Hough declined to go into details about the abuse, but said that it got much worse when she hit puberty, and her abuser began threatening her.
“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. And three: I was going to end up a slut. So it was like, I can’t go back, I have to be this person,'” she explained
But she did discuss some of what happened when she improvised on the set of “Safe Haven,” alongside Josh.
Cosmopolitan reported she did it after the two undressed, and got into a bed – under the direction of Lasse Hallstrom — as the cameras were rolling.
“I went from bawling to containing to laughing to crying again. Josh was crying. I think it was the most therapeutic moment of my life,” she added.
Following the publication of Julianne’s new interview with Cosmopolitan, a spokesperson for the Italia Conti Academy issued the following statement to Access Hollywood:
“Julianne was an exceptionally popular and talented pupil at the Academy and we totally refute any allegations that she was subject to abuse during her time with us,” the statement noted.
“It is no secret that during her studies she also spent a considerable amount of time training and successfully completing the ballroom and Latin dance world – which we had nothing to do with. We feel this article has been extremely badly worded and if re-read, you will see that although it mentions our name, it does not say that any abuse took place here,” the statement continued. “I feel sure Julianne would herself be horrified to learn that she had caused her old school any embarrassment or harmed its good name. As she herself said in an article in The Stage Newspaper of 19th June 2008: ‘I absolutely loved Italia Conti and can’t say a bad word about the place’. ‘It was a safe place.’”
Hough is far from the only celeb to have a painful past, and more stars are speaking out about their own traumas to bring awareness to the issue. In September 2012, “90210” actress AnnaLynne McCord revealed she was sexually abused by someone she knew, when she hosted a fundraiser for a foundation that aims to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
Likewise, Ashley Judd revealed she survived extensive sexual abuse as a child, in her 2011 memoir “All That Is Bitter & Sweet,” while “Extra” host Maria Menounos has said she had been sexually abused by multiple doctors during physical examinations.
On a lighter note, Julianne also dishes to the magazine about her relationship with Ryan Seacrest.
“We love what we do. We take pride in giving it our all, but then when we’re alone, we really focus in on going to dinners and being extra-romantic and affectionate and just being there for each other,” she says.
And clearly, the two know how to keep the sparks alive — Julianne recalls when the two were stranded and alone during Superstorm Sandy in New York, and took advantage of the rare time the two workaholics couldn’t work.
“It was great,” says Hough, smiling. “We put on some candles, had some sexy time….Ha!”
‘Safe Haven’ opens on Feb. 14.