Former Nashville star Hayden Panettiere is talking candidly about her nearly four-year relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Brian Hickerson. In a revealing new interview with People, Panettiere opens up about the relationship, which she says turned abusive not long after it began.

Panettiere and Hickerson began dating in 2018, during the same time the actor and singer was dealing with a heavy addiction to alcohol and opioids. Panettiere also struggled with postpartum depression, which began around 2015 after the birth of her daughter, Kaya. Her addiction to opioids and alcohol worsened near the end of her run on Nashville.

"I wanted to party, I wanted to do everything I wasn't supposed to do," says Panettiere. "Acting was my life, but I felt so bad about myself that I lost trust in myself. And that is very detrimental. The idea of not having a responsibility was very appealing at the time."

News of the abuse from Hickerson first came to light in May of 2019, when he was charged with felony domestic abuse against a "spouse, cohabitant, girlfriend, etc.," and Panettiere received a protection order. Although that case was eventually dropped, Hickerson was arrested yet again on eight charges of domestic violence in July of 2020. He pled no contest to two counts and spent 13 days in jail.

At the time, Panettiere released a statement coming forward about the "truth" of her relationship, saying, "I am prepared to do my part to make sure this man never hurts anyone again." Today, she doubles down on those words, realizing that what happened to her at the hands of Hickerson was unacceptable.

"I still feel the same way," she says. "None of it is okay. But I want to make sure that everybody knows that each person who goes through something like that, they're on their own journey. No two things are exactly alike."

Panettiere is still working through the emotions that came with the explosive relationship. She and Hickerson were seen together as recently as March of 2022, when they entered into a physical fight with others at a hotel in L.A.

"It was not my best behavior, it was not anyone's best behavior," she says of the event. "But it was not as insane as it was made to look, and everyone is okay."

Panettiere says she is now sober and single thanks to therapy and treatment. She is busy preparing for her role in Scream 6, and she is working to help Ukraine through her charity, Hoplon International. As for her relationship with Hickerson, Panettiere says she is "open to people who are willing to get help and make amends."

"I am trying to live in a place of understanding," she says.

"I think [Brian] has done his time and was willing to get help," she adds. "I think about the things I have done in my life that people forgave me for. Making amends is a really important thing that you learn in treatment," she continues. "And it gives you a lot of inner peace."

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