Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester Memorial Hospital, located in Winchester, Virginia. She was the eldest child of Hilda Virginia and Samuel Lawrence Hensley. Cline's mother was only 16 years old at the time of her birth. Besides being called "Virginia" in her childhood, she was also referred to as "Ginny". She temporarily lived with her mother's family in Gore, Virginia before relocating many times throughout the state. In her childhood, the family relocated where Sam Hensley could find employment, including Elkton, Staunton, and Norfolk. When the family had little money, she would find work. This included an Elkton poultry factory, where her job was to pluck and cut chickens. The family moved often before finally settling in Winchester, Virginia on South Kent Street Cline would later report that her father sexually abused her. When confiding about the abuse to friend Loretta Lynn Cline told her, "take this to your grave". Hilda Hensley would later report details of the abuse to producers of Cline's 1985 biopic Sweet Dreams.