Dancer/singer/actress Julianne Hough seems to have it all, but the 24-year-old reveals it came with a steep price. Hough says that while building her dance career as a child in London, she was preyed upon by a pedophile who took advantage of her physically and mentally.
"I was 10 years old looking like I was 28, being a very sensual dancer," she told Cosmopolitan of the start of her career, which saw her leave her childhood home in Utah for London. "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."
"While I was in London, I was abused, mentally, physically, everything," Hough explained, but she stopped short of naming her torturer. "I'm a very forgiving person, and I don't want to hurt anybody. What's past is past."
Hough claims that the abuse escalated "when I started hitting puberty, when I started becoming a woman and stopped being a little girl," and that her abuser used the classic tactic of threats to keep her quiet and complicit.
"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."
The abuse didn't end, she said, until one day she saw a performance by one of her fave musical acts and she was inspired to stand up for herself.
"I was like, f**k that. I know who I am, and I don't want to be this person who I am becoming. I left two days later and never went back."
The Dancing With the Stars queen said she didn't tell anyone — not even her parents — because she didn't want to be "a burden."
"I'd rather take the pressure on myself," she told the mag. "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."
So why talk now? "I don't want pity. To me it's more about being that voice for people who don't necessarily have a voice."
Read the entire interview with Julianne Hough in the February issue of Cosmopolitan.
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