Julianne Hough Talks About Being A Victim Of Child Abuse In ‘Cosmopolitan’ Magazine


A little while back we saw the first trailer for Safe Haven, the new movie based on another book by Nicholas Sparks (author of The Notebook). Actress/dancer Julianne Hough will star alongside Josh Duhamel and she recently rocked the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine’s February issue to promote her new movie. Julianne also opened up about traumatic experiences she suffered while attending a prestigious dance school in London. Click inside to learn more.

Julianne Hough For Cosmopolitan:


A Secret Past

When Hough was just 10 years old, she thought up a very detailed set of goals to work on—and then set about meeting them. “By the time I was 18, I wanted to be a professional dancer: I happened to be on Dancing With the Stars. When I was 19, I wanted to be a singer: At that age, I had my first record out. I said by the time I’m 22, I wanted to be a movie star….”

Hough is 24 now, and she’s been working on those goals since she was a girl in South Jordan, Utah. All four grandparents and both parents were dancers, so Hough, the youngest of five kids, grew up performing with her Mormon family. Her parents divorced when she was 10. At the time, her brother Derek was studying dance at London’s prestigious Italia Conti Academy of the Arts, and when a slot opened up, she joined him. She ended up winning a five-year scholarship, training relentlessly, and rarely seeing or talking to her family. She became a world-class dancer…but at a great cost.

“I was 10 years old looking like I was 28, being a very sensual dancer,” she says. A precociously seductive smile became her public mask—and she rarely took it off. “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.”

With her parents an ocean away, Hough says the adults around her took advantage. “While I was in London, I was abused, mentally, physically, everything,” she says. In what way or by whom exactly, she declines to say: “I’m a very forgiving person, and I don’t want to hurt anybody. What’s past is past.” A ripple of tension tightens a face that is always so relaxed and bright, like a sheet being pulled tight. It got worse, she says, “when I started hitting puberty, when I started becoming a woman and stopped being a little girl.”

“You can kind of hear the quiver in my voice….” She pauses but only a beat. She’s going to nail this move, even if her ankle is broken and her feet blistered. “This is the farthest I’ve ever gotten into my London situation,” she says. “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.”

As it turns out, Julianne is playing a victim of abuse in Safe Haven. Here’s another excerpt from People magazine:

But the painful emotions surfaced during filming of her latest movie, Safe Haven, opening Feb. 14, about a girl who survives an abusive ex-boyfriend and accepts the love of a widower, played by Josh Duhamel.

During one particularly difficult scene, she says, “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.”

As for her own love life, Hough says that she and boyfriend Ryan Seacrest work to find time for each other around their busy schedules.

“We love what we do,” she says. “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.”


Interestingly enough, a lot of readers on People magazine’s site seemed to be accusing Julianne of speaking out about her abuse for the sole purpose of promoting the film. Some also seemed disturbed by her refusal to name names, leaving others to possibly be subjected to similar abuse. I’m not sure what a victim is supposed to do in this situation. But if this is really the most she’s ever talked about her experience, then I’d say she’s still in the early stages of acknowledging what happened to her, even if it happened a decade ago.

What do you guys think of Julianne Hough’s interview? Is she brave for speaking up, or do you think that she might be capitalizing on the moment?

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  • darcy

    I think it’s a little premature to start handing out blame… we have no idea what she’s said/done in private about this incident… and we really have no idea of the type of abuse she experienced. She really didn’t say much about anything.

  • Brenna

    I’m not going to make a judgment about a person who suffered abuse during her childhood. People are so darn hard on other people.