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Hayden Panettiere Offers Rare Glimpse Into Her Relationship With Brian Hickerson: ‘He Knows He Deserved What Happened to Him’

Hayden Panettiere Offers Rare Glimpse Into Her Relationship With Brian Hickerson
Brian Hickerson and Hayden Panettiere Eric Charbonneau/Shutterstock

Hayden Panettiere addressed her tumultuous relationship with Brian Hickerson — and hinted at their current relationship status.

Related: Hayden Panettiere and Brian Hickerson's Relationship Timeline

During a profile for the New York Times, which was published Tuesday, April 4, Panettiere, 33, opened up about her decision to reconnect with Hickerson, 32, after they both became sober.

“I did not do any of this lightly,” the actress explained about letting Hickerson back into her life after his past arrests for domestic violence. “He knows he deserved what happened to him.”

According to the outlet, the Scream VI star referred to Hickerson as “babe” multiple times during her interview. “There are feelings there, yes,” she added, noting that their reconciliation was “contingent on him continuing” on his road of recovery.

Ahead of her romance with the actor, Panettiere was in a long-term relationship with fiancé Wladimir Klitschko. The Nashville alum and the former professional boxer, 47, began dating in 2009. They briefly broke up in 2011 but got engaged two years later. The pair welcomed daughter Kaya in December 2014.

Following her split from Klitschko in 2018, Panettiere moved on with Hickerson later that year. The Heroes alum faced major ups and downs in her personal life when her then-boyfriend was arrested for domestic violence in 2018 after an alleged argument between the then-couple.

The South Carolina native was charged with felony domestic violencewhich resulted in a prosecutor-requested protective order. The order mandated that Hickerson could not come within 100 yards of Panettiere or contact her via phone, email or third party, but the charges were dropped the following year.

Related: Hayden Panettiere and Ex-Fiance Wladimir Klitschko’s Ups and Downs

Hickerson was arrested again in July 2020 after allegedly punching the Ice Princess star in the face. He pleaded no contest to two felony counts of injuring a spouse or girlfriend and his remaining six counts of domestic violence and assault were dismissed. The real estate agent served 33 days in prison and was also placed on four years of probation and required to pay a $500 fine.

Amid Hickerson’s legal issues, Panettiere publicly reunited with her ex-boyfriend multiple times. In March 2022, the New York native tried to break up a fight between Hickerson and patrons at the Sunset Marquis hotel in Los Angeles.

A source exclusively told Us Weekly at the time that Panettiere believed Hickerson “changed for the better” despite the altercation.

“Hayden says people can learn from their mistakes,” the insider shared, claiming that the Lip Sync Battle alum has started cutting “anti-Brian” people from her life. “She’s become secretive with other friends. She takes ages to respond and sends one-word answers by text and cryptic messages.”

The Bring It On: All or Nothing star has recently been candid about dealing with personal struggles such as addiction and postpartum depression. Earlier this year, Panettiere recalled how drinking became her “coping mechanism” to deal with the stress of fame.

“I was being told how to be and how to live by so many people,” she told Women’s Health in March. “I wanted certain decisions to be my own, and nobody could stop me. What I put in my body was like an act of defiance.”

Related: Hayden Panettiere's Ups and Downs: Domestic Violence, Brother's Death, More

Hayden, whose brother Jansen Panettiere passed away earlier that month, said an old injury led her to take opioids in addition to drinking. “I should have gone on antidepressants [to cope with the postpartum depression], but you have to find the right one that works for you,” Hayden detailed. “They don’t mix well with alcohol, and I wasn’t ready to stop drinking.”

The I Love You, Beth Cooper has since gone to rehab in 2021 and enrolled in a 12-step program amid trauma therapy.

“A big part of my therapy has been living in forgiveness,” she added in March. “A step in the 12-step program is making amends. If somebody wants to be a good person and to be the best version of themselves, they can choose to do that.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential support.

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