The victim of a very gruesome and violent domestic assault is speaking up about her horrifying experience and the need to do more about domestic violence.
Last year, Kayla Hayes was violently assaulted and abused by her ex-boyfriend, Seth Aaron Fleury. The 23-year-old was sentenced last week to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. He flew into a rage when Hayes refused to kiss him after telling him she didn’t want to get back together, and Fleury bit her lip off.
The 19-year-old victim is still healing from the physical and mental wounds inflicted on her on that horrible night, but she’s bravely opening up about her journey in order to help others going through domestic violence.
“This was the day that a piece of me died,” Hayes wrote on Facebook. “Sitting in a puddle of my own blood with the majority of my lip laying on my leg, my whole mouth on fire, confused and terrified, I didn’t know how I could ever show my face again. At that point, wishing that those very seconds would just be my last— I wanted to give up for good.”
On that awful night, Fleury met up with Hayes to talk about their relationship. Hayes had no intention of getting back together with him, but she was expecting an apology from Fleury. Instead, he became infuriated and kissed her despite her objections. As she pulled away, “he bit down on her bottom lip with such force that her lip was amputated,” 13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins said in a statement.
Despite undergoing emergency plastic surgery, doctors were unable to reattach her lip, leaving her with limited range of motion in her mouth and severe scars. Fleury’s terrifying reaction happened so fast. As Hayes screamed for her life, he yanked her out of her own car and slammed the door in her face. He fled the scene, leaving her there bleeding and broken.
“I remember the look of terror on the man’s face that just so happened to save my life this day. As well as the sweet elderly lady that had to walk out of her home to see such tragedy occurring but yet was so kind to try to help me and keep me comforted until further help arrived.” Hayes also remembers the moment she realized the situation was worse than she feared, when she heard police “saying something along the lines of it being more serious than what he was expecting, my lip being completely severed off and for the EMS to come quick.”
Heartbroken and distraught, Hayes managed to make it through her recovery, relying on her personal strength and the love and support from friends and family. She had to come to the realization that her life would never be the same. “Never a day in my life will I ever wake up living my ‘normal’ life again,” Hayes wrote on Facebook.
Like many victims of domestic violence, at first Hayes blamed herself for Fleury’s behavior. Over time she understood that none of it was her fault. Fleury had been controlling from the start, and it got worse over time.
Hayes is now struggling with school, as at the time of the incident she was a student at Greenville Tech. She lost all her scholarships and had to withdraw from school for a while. She’s also coping with her damaged self-confidence and the visible scars. Even so, she’s determined not to let Fleury take any more of her life or her happiness. He will be eligible for parole in 10.2 years after he serves at least 85 percent of his sentence.
Hayes now runs a blog called Rise Above, where she discusses her experiences to inspire others and help those going through the heartbreak and hurt of domestic violence.