According to a source, the pair quietly rekindled things at some point despite the allegations he was abusive toward her. The source added that they even spent the December 2023 holidays together with his family in South Carolina.
"Brian and Hayden truly never broke up and really just [laid] low in the months after his arrest [for domestic battery] and her public declarations of healing herself," the source spilled to a magazine, referring to the 34-year-old actress' emotional interview in which she spilled on her struggles.
"Hayden knows that being with Brian is terrible for her image, so she doesn’t post about him, but they are together," the source claimed. "They can’t stay away from each other."
The mom-of-one and Hickerson first started dating in 2018 after she broke up with ex-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko, the father of her 9-year-old daughter, Kaya.
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In 2020, 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, who was Panettiere.
At the time, it was believed that the blonde beauty left Hickerson, as she publicly spoke out about the drama.
- Hayden Panettiere Admits There's Still 'Feelings' Between Her & Ex Brian Hickerson After Domestic Violence Incident
- Hayden Panettiere Addresses Hotel Fight With Ex Brian Hickerson: 'It Was Not My Best Behavior'
- Hayden Panettiere Feels Jail 'Changed' On & Off Boyfriend Brian Hickerson Despite Being Involved In Bar Brawl After Domestic Violence Charges: Source
"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 told People. "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."
The Heroes alum's attorney also released a statement.
"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," they said. "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."
An additional source claimed her inner circle believed the ordeal was "a turning point for her as she stands up for herself, her family and the many other people impacted by intimate partner violence."
It's unclear when she and Hickerson reconnected, though he did accompany the star to her brother Jansen's funeral in early 2023. The actor died that February at age 28 due to an enlarged heart and aortic valve complications.