Winter, now 18, went through several years of legal battles with her mother over allegations that Workman emotionally and physically abused her. The actress was ultimately emancipated from her mother in May 2015. She explained to DeGeneres that now she is her "own entity."
"Nobody controls you anymore," Winter said of being emancipated. "You handle your own business affairs, your own living arrangements, your own money. Everything is sort of in your own hands."
Winter had been under the custody of her 37-year-old sister Shanelle Gray since she was 14, and the actress credits her older sister for supporting her through "absolutely everything."
"She's been the best part of my life. She really is my best friend," Winter 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."
Winter revealed that neither she nor her sister are on speaking terms with their mother, and while she did not disclose the specific details that led to her current relationship with her mom, Winter did acknowledge that by distancing herself from her previous situation she has been "much better emotionally and physically."
"It's most definitely hard to grow up in the industry, but just [to] grow up in any instance without a mother from a very young age," Winter said. "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," Winter continued. "It's kind of been publicized, but the reason I don't really share that is because I want to give her the respect that she didn't give to me publicly."
Winter also noted that she tries not to let her critics get to her, and instead focuses on the people who support her.
"At the end of the day, it was what I needed to do," Winter said. "The people who supported me are the people that matter in my life and that's what I just kind of had to train myself to remember – that the people that love me and support me, their opinions matter."
Watch part of Winter's interview on "Ellen" below: