Julie Bowen reflects on saving Modern Family co-star Sarah Hyland from an ‘abusive’ relationship

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Julie Bowen has reacted to being credited with rescuing her Modern Family co-star Sarah Hyland from a toxic relationship, and her response is humbling.

The 54-year-old actor, who portrayed Claire Dunphy in the ABC sitcom from 2009 to 2020, made an appearance on the The Skinny Confidential Him & Her podcast on June 3. During the episode, Bowen was asked about helping Hyland – who played her daughter on the series – leave her past relationship in 2014.

“I was a responsible adult that happened to be around at the right time,” the Happy Gilmore star said. “I mean, I’m sure another responsible adult would have done the exact same thing. I just love her.”

Bowen admitted that she feels a maternal connection to each actor who played her children on the critically acclaimed comedy series, including Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, and Rico Rodriguez, who portrayed her younger step brother Manny Delgado.

“I look at them all like my kids,” she said.

In September 2014, Hyland was granted a restraining order against ex-boyfriend Matthew Prokop following accusations that he physically and verbally abused her over the course of their four-year relationship. Prokop – who appeared in an episode of Modern Family and the 2008 film, High School Musical 3: Senior Year – allegedly threatened to set Hyland’s house on fire and told her that she’d never see her dog again, according to court documents obtained by TMZ.

She also claimed that Prokop pinned her against a car and choked her, following an argument they had over her outfit in May 2014. The filing stated that Hyland asked her on-screen mother to help her "peacefully end" the relationship. She described an incident in which she had bought a plane ticket to send Prokop back to his home in Texas, but when he arrived at Hyland’s house and saw Bowen, he allegedly “ran outside into the backyard and began screaming” and threw a lighter at her.

Bowen allegedly told Hyland that she should leave the house as she was no longer safe around Prokop.

Shortly after she was granted the restraining order, Hyland opened up about how her Modern Family co-stars have always supported her in an interview with People. “In every aspect of life they’re the best for me,” she told the outlet in October 2014. “We’re always there for each other. And it’s wonderful. I love them.”

The former Love Island USA host has also spoken about the lasting effects of domestic abuse, and emphasized how prioritizing mental health can help overcome an abusive relationship.

“A lot of people like to think that once you’re out of an abusive situation, it ends there, but it doesn’t,” Hyland told Refinery29 in February 2020. “The emotional trauma and scars on the soul stay there, and they impact you for the rest of your life if you don’t get help.”

“I still find myself being like, ‘Oh, why did I just explode out of nowhere?’ I realize it’s tied to certain things, and it’s an endless battle of correcting yourself and having self-love,” she added. “Self-care is an extension of self-love.”

These days, Hyland is married to The Bachelorette alum Wells Adams. The couple announced their engagement in 2019 after dating for more than two years. They were forced to postpone their wedding due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and finally tied the knot in August 2022.

The national domestic abuse helpline offers support for women on 0808 2000 247, or you can visit the Refuge website. There is a dedicated men’s advice line on 0808 8010 327. Those in the US can call the domestic violence hotline on 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Other international helplines can be found via www.befrienders.org.