Hayden Panettiere said it's "terrifying" to speak out against her ex, Wladimir Klitschko.
Klitschko is a former Ukrainian boxer and an "icon" in Ukraine, according to Panettiere.
He currently has "full custody" of their daughter Kaya, Panettiere said.
On Wednesday's episode of "Red Table Talk," Hayden Panettiere spoke about why it's "terrifying" to discuss her disagreements with her ex Wladimir Klitschko in the media.
Klitschko currently has full custody of their 7-year-old daughter, Kaya Klitschko, and has lived with her in Europe since 2018.
At about the 24-minute mark of the episode, Panettiere told hosts Jada Pinkett Smith and Adrienne Banfield Norris and their guest co-host Kelly Osbourne that she was speaking in detail for the first time about her custody struggle because she had previously been worried about "upsetting" Klitschko.
"It's just scary. You don't want to piss anyone off, especially the person who has control of your child," she added.
Earlier in the conversation, when talking about Klitschko, she described him and his brother Vitali Klitschko as "icons" in their home country of Ukraine. Wladimir is a former Ukrainian professional boxer and Vitali is the current mayor of the city of Kyiv.
When Panettiere was struggling with alcoholism and depression in 2018 (as she previously spoke about in a July interview with People), she eventually signed over "full custody" of Kaya to Klitschko but clarified on "Red Table Talk" that doing so "wasn't fully my decision."
She said she sent Kaya over to Ukraine for a regularly scheduled visit and was going to take the time to get "better."
"And when I got better then things could change and she could come to me and I could have my time with her," she added. Instead, Klitschko told her he wanted custody of Kaya while the little girl was in Ukraine. Panettiere described the request as "a shock to me."
The "Heroes" star described Ukraine as "male-dominated" and claimed that because of the laws there, "there wasn't a whole heck of a lot" she could do to fight Klitschko's legal request for full custody. She called signing the papers to make the arrangement official "the most heartbreaking thing I've ever, ever had to do in my life."
Panettiere consistently said throughout the interview that Klitschko was a good father, but did express concern that he wasn't aware of Kaya's emotional needs as their daughter is growing up and realizing she has such limited time with her mom.
"I also remember her dad calling me and he said, 'Kaya's going around and asking other women if she can call them mommy,'" she explained. "And my breath hitched and my heart stopped. And he was laughing, he thought this was funny."
Panettiere said she thought this was "horrifying" information to learn. "That's a trauma reaction, that's... that's a cry for help," she added.
When she talked to Kaya about it, she said the little girl started regressing and speaking "gibberish" baby talk.
The "Nashville" star said she had never "endangered" Kaya. "In this country, they would never take a child from me. It never would have happened. But I think that's why she was wanted over there," she said.
Panettiere said she hasn't gotten any "hints" that she would be able to take her daughter to the US any time soon, but she had "hope" the situation will change in the future.
Klitschko's representative didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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