More than two years after their breakup following a domestic battery incident that led to Hickerson's arrest, the Scream 6 star opened up about their tumultuous past. In a New York Times profile published on April 4, Panettiere reflected on how she was at the height of her struggles with addiction when she was dating Hickerson—and her decision to reconnect with him as friends after they both became sober.
"There are feelings there, yes," she told the outlet, which noted that Panettiere referred to Hickerson as "babe" several times throughout the interview. The publication also stated Panettiere was hesitant to define her current relationship with Hickerson, though she noted their friendship is "contingent on him continuing on this road of recovery."
Sharing that Hickerson "knows he deserved what happened to him" after spending jail time for his charges, the 33-year-old explained of their reconciliation, "I did not do any of this lightly."
Panettiere began dating Hickerson, 32, in 2018. Throughout their four-year romance, Hickerson had a series of run-ins with the law stemming from allegations of domestic violence against the actress.
In 2019, Hickerson was arrested in Los Angeles following an alleged confrontation with the Nashville alum at her home. He pleaded not guilty to felony domestic violence, and the case ended up being dismissed.
On Valentine's Day of the following year, Hickerson was taken into police custody in Wyoming for alleged domestic battery against his girlfriend. Panettiere ended her relationship with Hickerson shortly after the arrest and obtained a temporary restraining order against him. Hickerson pleaded no contest to two felony counts of injuring a spouse or girlfriend and served less than two weeks in jail in May 2021.
Hickerson stepped out with Panettiere again in July 2021. However, he noted to E! News at the time, "Hayden and I are not back together but are working on a friendship."
"We have a long history together, and the first step in my recovery as an abuser is making amends," he added in his statement. "That's exactly what Hayden has been gracious enough to allow me to do."