Two days after a judge granted Hayden Panettiere a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend Brian Hickerson, who now faces felony assault charges, the actress is speaking out.
In a statement posted to Twitter Friday, Panettiere wrote, 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. I’m grateful for my support system, which helped me find the courage to regain my voice and my life.”
Panettiere posted her statement as an image; in her caption, she added, “For anyone else affected by abuse and needing support, please know that you can call 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto http://thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474. You are not alone.”
Panettiere’s attorney, Alan Jackson, provided a separate statement to The Daily Beast: “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.”
Hickerson was first arrested in February and charged with domestic battery after allegedly punching Panettiere in the face—a misdemeanor in Wyoming, the state in which he was arrested. Hickerson pleaded not guilty in April, per Us Weekly . Panettiere was granted a restraining order against Hickerson earlier this week.
According to a criminal indictment obtained by People, Hickerson was arrested again on Thursday on eight charges, including multiple felony charges. He was charged with four counts of corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, two charges of assault, and one of intimidating a witness (Panettiere), People reports. The alleged abuse occurred between May of 2019 and January 2020.
The Daily Beast has reached out to an attorney for Hickerson for comment. Hickerson and his attorney have not responded to E! News and People’s requests. A representative for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office tells People that his arraignment is scheduled for Monday.
A source close to Panettiere told People that the actress has “been undergoing successful treatment for alcohol abuse issues and is focused on healing, sobriety and recovery.”
A source tells E! News that Panettiere recently returned to Los Angeles to be closer to her family.
“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,” People’s source added. “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.”