For nearly a year, Kayla Hayes has been haunted by the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend Seth Aaron Fleury.
Last week, Fleury, 23, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature after biting off Hayes’ lip when she refused to kiss him after telling him she did not want to get back together.
Hayes, 19, is still healing from the physical and mental injuries inflicted on her that horrific night on October 21, 2017, but has bravely opened up about what she went through in the hope she can inspire others to seek help if they are victims of 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 the night of the assault, Fleury met up with Hayes to discuss their relationship. “I was not there to get back together with him, however, I was there for him to right his wrongs,” Hayes explained.
After Hayes made her intentions clear, Fleury grew angry. He proceeded to kiss her and 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.
Hayes underwent emergency plastic surgery, but doctors were unable to reattach her lip, leaving her with severe scars and limited range of motion in her mouth.
“I could not figure out how this happened so fast. I couldn’t figure out how he was so mad,” Hayes said. “Of course, as I said before, I wasn’t there to get back together with him. I refused and backed up only to feeling him latch on to me.”
“I then just started screaming at the top of my lungs for help and out of fear for my life. He then yanked me out of my own vehicle and slammed the door in my face so he could take off, and run away from what he had just done.”
“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.”
However, her high spirits were quickly crushed as the reality of what had just happened to her sunk in. “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, Hayes initially blamed herself for what happened. But as time went by she realized she was in no way at fault.
“This happened because I chose not to get back together with someone that I knew didn’t deserve me which he proved once again.”
Before the attack, Hayes admits “there were many signs that I needed to be long gone but this was my very first serious relationship.”
“I used to be my attacker’s property, he manipulated me to the point where I almost lost everything and everyone in my life. The day that I walked out of this relationship was one of the best days of my life. Although, that was when he snapped. When he realized he lost all control over me and wasn’t gaining it back this day.”
Despite doing her best to piece her life back together, things for Hayes since the attack have been challenging.
At the time of the incident, Hayes was studying at Greenville Tech. “I was about a month and a half into my first year of college. Now, I am behind a year and should have been only about a year away from being done.” Hayes also revealed she lost all of her scholarships as a result of having to withdraw.
Not only did the attack affect her academic career, but nearly damaged her self-confidence. “Being a young girl is already hard because you have so many expectations of how you should look, so you can only imagine how my insecurities skyrocketed once I had a flat face with a scar wrapping from cheek to cheek and was known as the ‘girl that had her lip bitten off.'”
The assault has also changed Hayes’ outlook on starting a family. “I no longer want kids because I feel like bringing them in the world would be putting them into danger. If Seth could flip like a switch because I refused a kiss, then imagine what he would do if he ran into me or my family again.”
Nonetheless, she’s vowing to not let Fleury steal any more of her happiness. “I cannot allow him to keep taking it or I will never live the life I was meant to.”
Fleury will be eligible for parole in 10.2 years after he serves at least 85 percent of his 12-year sentence.
Hayes now runs a blog, Rise Above, where she talks about her experiences to help others facing domestic violence.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, PEOPLE.