In a candid new interview with Cosmopolitan magazine, the dancer-turned-actress, who is currently dating U.S. media mogul Ryan Seacrest, reveals she didn't have to dig too deep to play an abused woman opposite Josh Duhamel in new movie Safe Haven - she suffered at the hands of others when she was a dance student in Britain.
The 24 year old says, "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.
"While I was in London, I was abused, mentally, physically, everything... (It got worse) when I started hitting puberty, when I started becoming a woman and stopped being a little girl.
"I'm a very forgiving person, and I don't want to hurt anybody. What's past is past... (but) you can kind of hear the quiver in my voice... This is the farthest I've ever gotten into (revealing) 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."
The actresses have topped Fitness magazine's health countdown thanks, in part, to the efforts they go to to look good and stay in shape.
Tom Cruise's ex-wife Holmes nabbed the Best Revenge Body, Aniston was named Best Bride-to-Be and newlyweds Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake were crowned Fittest Couple.
Other winners in the new poll include another new wife, Blake Lively (Best Legs), U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama (Best Arms), Halle Berry (Fab After 40), Beyonce (Best Body After Baby) and mum-to-be Claire Danes (Best Baby Bump).
Meanwhile, pop star Pink landed the Best Celebrity Slimdown honour for the weight she lost after becoming a first-time mum and Kate Hudson picked up the prize for Best Cleavage.
Rounding out the list of banging body parts: Gwen Stefani (Best Abs), Eva Longoria (Best Butt), Jennifer Lawrence (Best Curves) and Rock of Ages star Julianne Hough (Best Back).
Celebrities including Sidney Poitier, Julianne Hough, Jennie Garth, Carmen Electra and Nicollette Sheridan all turned out to see the Ocean's Eleven star as he was honoured for his humanitarianism at the Carousel of Hope ball in Beverly Hills.
The black-tie fundraiser, which was compered by comedian Jay Leno, pulls in money for the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Colorado.
Singer Neil Diamond later took to the stage to perform, while guests also bid on luxury items including a Bora Bora wedding and tickets to designer fashion shows.
Style guru Stuart Weitzman has also recruited Battleship beauty Brooklyn Decker and AnnaSophia Robb for the exclusive Young Hollywood Cares Collection, which aims to raise funds for ovarian cancer research.
Announcing the news on her Twitter.com blog, Decker writes, "I designed a shoe for @stuart_weitzman and all the proceeds go to Cancer Research. Such a fun initiative w (with) @juliannehough @nikkireed_I_Am @ChloeGMoretz & AnnaSofia Robb (sic)."
Decker's black leather ankle boots feature gold cap-toes, while Twilight star Reed has created a black and burgundy calfskin platform pump with ankle strap, and Hough has designed a patent black lace-up oxford bootie.
Moretz has come up with a tan and navy calfskin menswear-style shoe, and Robb's stiletto pump features black pony hair and burgundy satin piping.
The former Dancing With the Stars dancer first met Seacrest in Hollywood in 2007 when mutual friends set them up, but Hough admits she was skeptical and grilled him on their first date.
She tells America's InStyle magazine, "I was reluctant because he is such an influential guy, and what if it didn't work out? Our first date, I was so nervous that I just sat there and interviewed him with questions like, 'Are you loyal?' and 'Are you close to your family?'"
The pair has been a couple ever since and the Rock of Ages star reveals they maintain their romance by taking culinary classes together, adding, "When we do see each other, we are super excited and do these cute and romantic things... I'm very in love, and it feels great."
But, the 24 year old admits their cooking hobby has a downside: "I'm 20 pounds heavier than I was when we started dating."
The Footloose star had the time of her life playing aspiring singer Sherrie Christian opposite Cruise's edgy rock star Stacee Jaxx in the film - but many of their more steamy moments together were cut out of the movie.
And now Hough admits she feels lucky to have shared a moment of intimacy with the movie icon without facing any consequence from her Mormon dad Bruce.
She tells Interview magazine, "It was a really great dance-and-vocal number - Rock You Like a Hurricane... It was in the strip club and I gave Tom a lap dance... in a bra and underwear.
"The movie flowed better without it, so I understand why it got edited out, but at the same time, I'm like, 'Wait a minute, I got to do that, and it's not even in the movie?' My father will probably like that scene getting cut out."
Hough previously revealed the racy scene was cut by director Adam Shankman when it tested poorly among preview audiences.
She said, "Apparently mothers didn't like Sherrie Christian after that... It was a little too hot and sexy and steamy."
The actress assures fans the scene will feature in the director's cut of the DVD release.
The Rock of Ages star, who is currently dating radio personality Ryan Seacrest, rose to fame as a professional choreographer on the hit U.S. TV show, winning the mirror ball trophy twice in 2007.
But Hough, then an aspiring actress, confesses she almost never signed on to the series - because she worried fans wouldn't take her seriously after serving a stint on a reality show.
She tells Interview magazine, "A lot of people don't know this, but when Dancing With the Stars first asked me to be on the show, I said no, because I wanted to act and to be taken seriously. And I thought that being on a reality show would hurt my credibility."
But the 23 year old is glad she finally accepted the offer because the exposure has opened up a lot of doors.
She adds, "What I've come to realise is that being on that show completely launched my career and gave me a family and a built-in audience. My biggest fear is that people think, 'Oh, just because she was on Dancing With the Stars, she thinks she can act now.' But I've been acting my whole life, which people don't realise. I just haven't had the opportunities that I've had with my dancing."
The much-hyped Adam Shankman film, adapted from the popular Broadway musical of the same name, grossed a disappointing $15.1 million (£9.44 million) in its first week of release, despite boasting Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Julianne Hough, Russell Brand and Mary J. Blige in its cast.
The latest Madagascar sequel, featuring characters voiced by Ben Stiller and Chris Rock, held on to number one for a second week, taking another $35.5 million (£22.19 million), while Sir Ridley Scott's Alien prequel Prometheus also saw off Rock of Ages with $20.2 million (£12.63 million).
Snow White and the Huntsman was in fourth, with Adam Sandler's new comedy That's My Boy rounding out the top five.
The blonde beauty admits she was turned off by the idea of hitting the big screen in another music-themed movie after parts in Burlesque and 2011's Footloose remake, and instead wanted to test her talents with a straight-up drama.
She tells the New York Daily News, "At first I was like, 'Yeah, I don't think I want to do another musical... Of course, you have to get your foot in the door somehow, so Burlesque and Footloose made sense. But I wanted to expand and grow as an actress."
But she had a change of heart as soon as director Adam Shankman revealed the Mission: Impossible actor had signed up to lead the star-studded cast.
She recalls, "He said, 'You know, Tom Cruise is in it.' And I was like, 'Right - I'll do one more (musical)!'"
Hough will be able to test her drama skills in her next film - she plays a Christian evangelist with burns over two-thirds of her body in screenwriter Diablo Cody's untitled directorial debut.
The former Dancing With the Stars regular, who stars in Tom Cruise's new movie Rock of Ages, admits she can't believe she beat out other leading ladies to portray a Christian evangelist with burns over two-thirds of her body.
She tells WENN, "I play a burn survivor trying to find out who she is all over again. It was one of those movies where you become so grateful and you just want to be a really nice person and know everybody's name. It was one of those times in my life where I will always remember that role.
"I went back to a time when I was five years old, when I loved life; the film changed me. Every day I told Diablo, 'Thank you so much for giving me this role because every girl in Hollywood wanted it.'
"She could have had anybody she wanted and she went with a dancer chick."