Her character, Katie, is a victim of abuse at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, and Hough revealed in her cover story interview with Cosmopolitan that the inspiration for her character was, sadly, mined from her own past.
While studying dance at the age of 10 in London, her parents thousands of miles away in Utah, Hough said the adults around her took advantage.
"While I was in London, I was abused, mentally, physically, everything," she told Cosmo, but won't say who her tormentors were. "I'm a very forgiving person, and I don't want to hurt anybody. What's past is past."
"I was 10 years old looking like I was 28, being a very sensual dancer," she said. "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."
Hough said the experience of filming Safe Haven, while difficult, was also a source of healing.
"I went from bawling to containing to laughing to crying again. [Co-star] Josh [Duhamel] was crying. I think it was the most therapeutic moment of my life."