Hayden Panettiere hints she's back together with Brian Hickerson: 'I did not do any of this lightly'

Hayden Panettiere and Brian Hickerson are back together years after abuse incidents. (Photo: Getty Images)
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Hayden Panettiere and Brian Hickerson, the ex-boyfriend who served time in jail for injuring the actress, are seemingly back together. Panettiere, who's enjoying a Hollywood comeback thanks to Scream 6, hesitantly commented on their relationship to the New York Times.

"There are feelings there, yes," she replied when asked if they're dating again.

Hickerson and Panettiere were first linked in 2018. Over the next three years, he was arrested at least three times on domestic violence charges. In 2021, he was sentenced to 45 days in jail stemming from abusive incidents. Panettiere told the Times she does not condone his behavior.

"He knows he deserved what happened to him," Panettiere stated, saying she and Hickerson are both sober. The actress, who apparently called him "babe" a handful of times as the interview was conducted, said their relationship is "contingent on him continuing on this road of recovery." The journalist noted that Panettiere is self-conscious about how people will react to her and Hickerson reconnecting.

"I did not do any of this lightly," she added.

Panettiere and Hickerson dated on and off for about four years. Their relationship coincided with the actress's addiction to alcohol and opioids, which she has been open about in recent months.

Hickerson's legal troubles have been well documented in the press.

In May 2019, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge and released on bail. In February 2020, he was arrested on Valentine's Day during the couple's trip to Wyoming. He was charged with domestic battery and interference with a cop. In July 2020, Hickerson was arrested and charged with multiple felony assault charges. (The incidents allegedly occurred from May 2019 to January 2020.) He ultimately struck a plea deal and served time in jail the following year.

Following Hickerson's July arrest, Panettiere broke her silence about abuse she suffered for years.

"I am coming forward with the truth about what happened to me with the hope that my story will empower others in abusive relationships to get the help they need and deserve," she said. "I am prepared to do my part to make sure this man never hurts anyone again. I'm grateful for my support system, which helped me find the courage to regain my voice and my life."

Panettiere's attorney added in a statement to People that the actress suffered "psychological, emotional and severe physical abuse."

It didn't take long for Hickerson and Panettiere to reunite after he was released from jail in 2021. They maintained they were working on a friendship. One year ago, the duo made headlines after appearing to get into a bar brawl with a group outside of a hotel in L.A. The video wound up on TMZ. Hickerson is on probation until 2025.

For anyone affected by abuse and needing support, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or if you're unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.