"I went through a really rough period, a really bad chapter," Winter, now 19, recalls.
She says food was "very, very restricted" in her household from the time she began acting at the age of four, a profession that she claims wasn't her choice but that of her mother, Crystal Workman.
When she was just 14 years old, Winter alleged that she was physically and emotionally abused by her mother. The courts gave her older sister, Shanelle Gray, temporary custody of her in 2012. Later, at the age of 17, she was emancipated.
But Winter will never forget what it felt like to be growing up and feeling sexualized as early as age seven.
"[I was dressed in] the smallest miniskirts, sailor suits, low-cut things, the shortest dresses you've ever seen. People thought I was 24 when I was 12," she recalls, claiming, "If there was going to be a nude scene when I was that age, my mother would have a thousand percent said yes."
And she says that being on Modern Family didn't make things easier. She was often criticized by cyber bullies for her curvy figure and, unfortunately, still is to this day.
"The first season I was very thin, no breasts, no hips," she recalls. "The next year, I had huge boobs and a butt."
"It was automatically, 'You're a fat slut. You're a whore,'" she says of some of the comments she's received on social media. "I was like, 'Maybe I'm going to lose some weight, dye my hair, change how I dress. … Maybe I'm doing something wrong.' [But] I actually got more hate by trying to change."
Today, Winter tries not to let the haters get to her and is taking steps to create a career she wants. Winter was accepted at UCLA and starts college classes this month, but says she "definitely" wants to continue acting.
"The reason I'm going to college is because I do want knowledge in another field," she explains. "College isn't the college experience for me. I'm not going to be in a sorority, I'm not going to network, I'm not even really going to make my lifelong friends. I've had the career experience. I've had the experience of taking care of myself. I'm going to college because I genuinely want to learn."
"Even though I wish I had a better childhood, I wouldn't trade it, because it made me who I am today," she adds. "I still respect the people that hurt me."
Following the release of the Hollywood Reporter feature, Winter took to Instagram to thank her friends and fans for all their support over the years, giving her father a special shout-out.
"I'd also just like to add, I'm so lucky for all the love and support I have around me. One person who wasn't mentioned much for that love and support is my father," she wrote. "He is one of the closest people in my life -- I'm very lucky to have you dad! I love you. Thank you for being there for me always and being so amazing?"