Hayden Panettiere opens up about abuse as ex-boyfriend is arrested: 'I am prepared to do my part'

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Hayden Panettiere is breaking her silence about the alleged abuse she’s been suffering at the hands of an ex-boyfriend. The Nashville star, 30, said she hopes her “truth” will “empower others in abusive relationships to get the help they need and deserve.” Panettiere’s statement comes one day after Brian Hickerson was arrested on domestic violence charges — again.

People reports Hickerson was arrested on “multiple felony charges, including four charges of corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, two charges of assault, and one of intimidating a witness, Panettiere.” The criminal complaint apparently outlines eight charges against Hickerson stemming from allegedly abusive incidents from May 2019 to January 2020. 

Yahoo Entertainment can confirm Hickerson, 31, was hauled in by police on Thursday night. According to inmate records, he remains in custody as of Friday afternoon with bail set at $320,000. Arraignment has been scheduled for Monday.

Hayden Panettiere is opening up about abuse as her ex-boyfriend, Brian Hickerson, is arrested on domestic violence charges. (Photo: Reuters)
Hayden Panettiere is opening up about abuse as her ex-boyfriend, Brian Hickerson, is arrested on domestic violence charges. (Photo: Reuters)

Panettiere shared an emotional note on social media on Friday as the incident made headlines.

“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. I am prepared to do my part to make sure this man never hurts anyone again,” she wrote. “I'm grateful for my support system, which helped me find the courage to regain my voice and my life.”

The Heroes alum included the phone number for a support line for “anyone affected by abuse and needing support.” 

Hickerson and Panettiere started dating in 2018, shortly after she split from fiancé Wladimir Klitschko. Their relationship appeared tumultuous from the start. 

In October 2018, police were called to Hickerson’s father’s home in South Carolina over a drunken altercation. In May 2019, he was arrested for felony domestic violence. A protective order was issued, but later dropped and the case was eventually dismissed as Panettiere and Hickerson reportedly reunited.

In February, Hickerson was arrested for domestic battery after he allegedly punched her on Valentine's Day. He pleaded not guilty and a trial date has been set for September. On Wednesday, the actress filed to register an out-of-state restraining order against Hickerson in California, one day before Hickerson was arrested again.

Panettiere’s lawyer, Alan Jackson, issued the following statement to Yahoo Entertainment: “After suffering for years as the victim of psychological, emotional and severe physical abuse, Hayden Panettiere has begun the process of taking back her life. Hayden has found the strength and courage to share the truth about her abuse and her abuser, and she intends to assist the prosecution to see that justice is served. As a survivor, she recognizes that her arduous journey of healing has just begun.”

A source told People magazine that the actress is working on bettering herself.

“She has been undergoing successful treatment for alcohol abuse issues and is focused on healing, sobriety and recovery,” a source told the magazine. “She wants to be honest about what happened in the hope that it may help someone else who is dealing with emotional abuse, intimidation or physical violence.”

Panettiere has one child, 5-year-old daughter Kayla, with her former fiancé.

“This is a turning point for her as she stands up for herself, her family and the many other people impacted by intimate partner violence,” the source added.

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