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Nearly a year after Ariel Winter was legally emancipated from her mother, the "Modern Family" star says she's in a better place and feels "safer" than ever.

The 18-year-old actress, who was found to have been emotionally abused by her mom, Chrisoula Workman, stopped by the March 21 edition of "Ellen," where she opened up about how far she's come since distancing herself from the family troubles that plagued her childhood.

Explaining that emancipation means "nobody controls you anymore," and "you handle your own business affairs, your own living arrangements, your own money," Ariel recounted the key role her older sister has played in helping her forge a new path for herself.

"My sister was granted temporary custody first and then when I was 17 in the beginning of the year she was granted permanent custody," Ariel recounted of the three-plus-year custody battle between her mother and sister.

"And then to kind of just move forward with the process and end it all together we got me emancipated and I could just handle my own affairs. "

Ariel's sister, Shanelle Gray, has been her rock throughout the process.

"She's been the best part of my life. She really is my best friend," Ariel said. "She's the most important thing to me. She's been there for me through absolutely everything. And I just love her so much. I count on her more than anything. "

Ellen also asked Ariel to explain why neither she nor Shanelle has a relationship with their mom these days.

"Obviously there's a reason you would not want to be connected to her what is that reason?" Ellen asked.

"Well, it's most definitely hard to grow up in the industry, but just grow up in any instance without a mother from a very young age," Ariel replied.

"And it has been very sad for me, but at the same time it's been much better for me emotionally and physically to be on my own and have a better, safer household and support system. I don't really talk about the reason that I don't speak to my mother. It's kind of been publicized, but the reason I don't really share that is because I want to give her the same respect that she didn't give to me publically."

Ellen agreed, acknowledging that Chrisoula's decision to air the family's dirty laundry with Dr. Phil was in poor taste.

"It just really didn't try to fix anything with me," the actress said.

"It just tried to make herself look better and I'm not interested in that people can make their own judgments I did what I had to do for myself."