Julianne Hough has revealed she was abused as a child -- which apparently prepared her to play the lead role of an abused woman in the upcoming movie Safe Haven.

The actress, singer and former Dancing with the Stars professional dancer told Cosmopolitan magazine she experienced abuse while studying dance at London's prestigious Italia Conti Academy of the Arts starting at the age of 10. The dancer said she had joined brother Derek Hough at the school following her parents' divorce, as a five-year scholarship had enabled her to "train relentlessly."

Although seemingly fortunate at the time, Hough has opened up about how she had encountered adults who took advantage of her in numerous ways.

"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," a tense Hough told Cosmo in its latest issue, reluctant to name any names or get into much detail.

"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 this sexy facade because that was my job and my life. But my heart was the same, and I was this innocent little girl. I wanted so much love... What's past is past. [But it got worse] when I started hitting puberty, when I started becoming a woman and stopped being a little girl."

The Utah native apparently had trouble recalling her painful memories for the magazine.

"You can kind of hear the quiver in my voice..." Hough paused.

"This is the farthest I've ever gotten into [discussing] my London situation. 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."

Hough reportedly harnessed the thick skin she had developed throughout the years when auditioning for the role of Safe Haven's Katie, a girl who survives an ex-boyfriend's abuse and runs away to North Carolina only to find a widower whom she can finally trust and love.

Safe Haven director Lasse Hallstrom was surprised Hough had the ability to portray such an unstable and tortured woman in the movie, as he was skeptical of her skills at the time of her first audition.

"I had a perception that she was just a very light and charming girl that might not have the emotional range," Hallstrom told Cosmo.

Hough first auditioned with lead actor Josh Duhamel, who has admitted he believed the dancer had the chops to play the part. He even spoke to the director in her defense.
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"I told Lasse, 'There is a sadness in that room, something more complicated that the character needed to have. And that's what she has,'" Duhamel, who plays the widower, told the magazine.

Once Hough was given the part after her second audition, Hallstrom reportedly found her to be "honest and direct and wonderfully fearless."