A woman whose ex-boyfriend bit off her lip when she refused to get back together with him says she finally has closure after he was jailed for 12 years.
Kayla Hayes, 19, said ‘a piece of me died’ when Seth Aaron Fleury, 23, viciously attacked her in Simpsonville, South Carolina, on October 21 last year.
Hayes told DailyMail.com she was 17 when she started dating Fleury in October 2, 2016, who was 21 at the time.
But after almost a year of him treating her like his ‘property’, she broke things off for good in September last year.
But Fleury refused to accept it – and when they met up to talk a few weeks later, he tried to kiss her. When she pulled away, he bit down on her bottom lip with such force that it was ripped off.
Hayes underwent emergency plastic surgery, but doctors were unable to reattach her lip and she was left with permanent scarring and a limited range of motion with her mouth.
Now, almost a year since the brutal assault happened, Hayes has gotten justice after seeing the boyfriend who became her ‘worst nightmare’ jailed.
Kayla Hayes (pictured after the attack) says she finally has some closure after her ex-boyfriend was jailed for 12 years after biting off her bottom lip
Judge Robin N. Stilwell sentenced Fleury to 12 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to assault and battery of high and aggravated nature at Greenville County Courthouse on Thursday.
He will have to serve at least 85 per cent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
At Thursday’s hearing, Hayes recalled in detail the day her life changed at the hands of someone who claimed he would always protect her in a heartbreaking victim impact statement provided to DailyMail.com.
In it, she recalled how she ended up sitting in a puddle of her own blood with her lip on her leg and wishing her injuries would take her life.
‘October 21st, 2017. This was the day that a piece of me died,’ she said.
A year on, Hayes says she hopes her story will help others.
‘No one deserves to be hurt by the ones they love, but unfortunately it is more common than we realize,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘Everyone has a story and just because you don’t see their scars, as you will mine, this doesn’t meant that they didn’t fight the same battle.
‘Even if my story only helps one single person, I will know that there was a reason for this happening to me.’
She added: ‘No one truly believes that this could happen to them but it can happen in the blink of an eye.
‘Someone could be the most outstanding person you have ever met, but until you are with them behind closed doors you just never know.
‘I want to help others see that it is okay to ask for help to get out of their situation.
‘Not only do I want them to know that, but that there is light at the end of the tunnel.’
Seth Aaron Fleury (left) was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Thursday after attacking Hayes (right, shortly after the attack) on October 21 last year
In her victim impact statement, she said: ‘I remember every detail of this very moment, the thoughts that ran through my mind when I opened my camera, were very dark which only seemed to worsen.
‘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, honestly wishing that those very seconds would just be my last – I wanted to give up for good.
‘I kept replaying what had just happened in my head, from telling Seth that I was not there to get back together with him, however I was there for him to right his wrongs.
‘To getting flowers and cards thrown at the back of my head and then quickly get in my car to seeing my leg shaking uncontrollably to finally look up at him picking everything up.
‘I could not figure out how this happened so fast. I couldn’t figure out how he was so mad. From putting the items in the passenger seat leading to him trying to kiss me.
‘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. Feeling it tear about half way.
‘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.’
Hayes (pictured after the attack) underwent emergency plastic surgery, but doctors were unable to reattach her lip and she was left with permanent scarring
Alongside pictures she’d taken in the moments after the attack, Hates revealed the dark thoughts that ran through her mind afterwards
She added: ‘He continued to call me once I made it into the ambulance, which felt like a lifetime after having something many women hold precious to them, completely mutilated.
‘I just don’t understand how you could be filled with such anger. I remember the look of terror on the mans 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.
‘I remember Officer R coming around the back of the vehicle with Officer P following. I remember Officer R pulling his walkie talkie over to speak in to it.
‘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.
‘Then giving me a piece of gauze and trying to assist me to stay calm and find out the details.’
In the ambulance, Hayes didn’t have the heart to ruin her mother’s vacation by calling her. It was the first she had taken without her daughter.
When she called friends, they couldn’t understand her when she tried to explain what had happened because of the severity of her injury.
Hayes (pictured in hospital) was left with a limited range of motion with her mouth after the attack last year
‘I remember being in the ambulance, being told to call my mother. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
‘She was seven hours away on her first vacation she had ever taken without me, how could I ruin it.
‘I then got on the phone with her friend and I remember trying to say he bit me but no one could understand me because my lips couldn’t pronounce it.
‘I then blew up into a ball of emotions and gave the phone to the lady behind me, allowing her to explain.
‘I remember just watching out of the back of the window of the EMS, watching the roads thinking we were never going to make it to the hospital, again wishing that these moments would just be my last.
‘Still to this day I cannot hear or see an ambulance without going into a panic. It brings me right back into this moment.’
When she woke up in hospital was when she realized how significantly her life had changed.
‘I remember waking up, looking up to my nurse trying to lighten the air around me and making a joke about how at least now I wouldn’t have to dress up for Halloween to scare everybody, that I could now go as myself.
‘She chuckled and nodded then proceeded to bring me a mask to cover my face.
‘That was when it hit me, this was my new reality. What I just woke up from was no joke. Never a day in my life will I ever wake up living my ‘normal’ life again.’
Hayes recalled the day her life changed in harrowing detail after her attacker was jailed
Hayes said that in the months that followed, she blamed herself – but has realized that only Fleury is at fault.
‘For many months I found myself at blame for what happened to me. But now I have finally realized that I am not at fault,’ she wrote.
‘This happened because I chose not to get back together with someone that I knew didn’t deserve me which he proved once again.
‘I used to be my attackers 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, October 21st, 2017, I truly believe that was what through him over the edge. He was always great at getting in my head, but this time, I no longer allowed it.’
‘I grew up in a home with a single mother that always put me before a man, so I was very naive when it came to them.
‘I had no idea what abuse was until I physically and emotionally dealt with it first hand from Seth.
‘I was 17 when I began dating Seth Fleury and he was 21.
‘From the very beginning, there were many signs that I needed to be long gone but this was my very first serious relationship.
‘Many people ask why I stayed if it was so bad but what they don’t know is that it wasn’t always bad.
‘We had some very good times because when he was good, he was great but when he was bad, he became my nightmare.
Hayes now runs a Facebook page called Rise Above to helps others spot the signs of abuse
‘Think about it, some of you may have a daughter or used to be this girl… as a naive seventeen year old girl, who is now with her first boyfriend, who is older, and this was her first ‘love’ and the first one that she thought loved her.
‘Of course she wanted to pursue him no matter what. I always thought that if you just gave up when it got bad then that truly means you don’t love them but there comes a point where you don’t ‘give up’ but you have to get out because your life may depend on it.
‘What they also don’t know is that many times I tried to get out but when I did, it only got worse for me but finally I gained the courage to say I was done and stood firm with my decision.
‘Just like his family, many of times, I protected Seth. But this time he has done something that there is absolutely no excuse for and needs to face the consequences before the next girl faces something worse than what I did.’
Hayes went on to reveal she was so afraid in the wake of the assault that she was afraid to drive for months and how her scar made her ‘feel like a monster.’
She was also forced to withdraw from college, where she was studying dental hygiene, and as a result, lost her scholarship.
When she returns, she told DailyMail.com she plans to switch her major to study a subject related to domestic violence.
‘We now are present day October 18th, 2018. This is a day that I should be sitting in a College classroom preparing for a test or out on the field learning new things.
‘But instead I am at a courthouse having to explain the impact that someone else’s actions had on me.
‘When this happened, I was about a month and a half into my first year of college.
‘Now, I am a year behind and should have been only about a year away from being done.
‘Due to having to withdraw, I lost all of my scholarship which will now have to come out of mine and my mother’s pocket when I plan to go back.’
She added: ‘When this happened, we had to sell the first home my mother had ever purchased.
‘Where the attack took place was right down the street from our front door. I could not even go back to my own home for weeks because I would begin panicking every time I even saw the street.
‘I was not able to drive for around two months, due to being on medicine and then being frightened to really venture out much.
Hayes said she was in her first semester of college when the attack happened, forcing her to withdraw and lose her scholarship
‘I sat in a bedroom constantly scrolling through social media, which only led me comparing myself to everyone on my feeds, which only led to my thoughts worsening.
‘I thought there was no use for me left in this world. 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 sky rocketed once I had a flat face with a scar wrapping from cheek to cheek and was now known as the ‘girl that had her lip bitten off’.
‘When I gained the courage to go out, I would constantly have heads turning to stare me down. I felt like a monster.
‘I could not even walk out of the house without smothering myself in makeup or being in fear that I would see him.’
As well as the crippling anxiety, her day-to-day life has changed – she still can’t eat normally and suffers from nightmares.
‘It took me months to finally be able to open my mouth wide enough to put a regular sized small fork or spoon in my mouth,’ she said.
‘I was having to use little plastic ones that were smaller than the ones that babies use. I could not and still cannot bite off of food, I first have to tear everything to bits.’
She added: ‘About a month or so after this happened, my mom came home to check on me on her lunch break. I was asleep so she just laid next to me.
‘She began having to shake me to wake me. I was screaming and crying in my sleep because I was having nightmares that my attacker, was coming after me once again.
‘But that wasn’t the end of them, I still have them to this day. My biggest fear is that he will get his hands on me again and next time I will not be up here for you to hear my voice.’
As well as the nightmares, she would be woken up at all hours of the night to be told if Fleury’s ankle monitor hadn’t registered a signal.
‘My nights don’t just consist of nightmares, but getting woken up from my phone ringing in the hours from 1.30am to 4am.
‘These calls are from the GPS Monitoring company, calling to tell me that ‘Seths monitor has not had a signal to them in a hour or so, they haven’t been able to get ahold of him but for me to have a goodnight. *click*’.
‘Imagine that… your biggest fear is someone that has hurt you before, coming after you and yet they don’t know where he is. They leave me in a panic and follow it with no update.’
Sadly, Hayes also revealed that she no longer wants children if it means they’ll be in danger.
‘I used to dream of having a big family and having little babies, as most do. As of now, I am completely against this.
‘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.
‘I have seen videos and pictures of Seth on the internet, showing off his ankle monitor as if it is a joke and having a grand old time, but this is no joke.
‘This is my reality, this is my life, my emotions, and everyone else around me that has had to make arrangement to switch things up, so I can feel as comforted as possible, that he has affected with absolutely no remorse.
‘Before this happened, when I was upset, I would stare into the mirror until I could force a smile on my face, now I cannot even do so and I never will be able to again.
‘I was told to not post anything about being happy or what I was doing but Seth Fleury has taken enough of my happiness. I cannot allow him to keep taking it or I will never live the life that I was meant to.
‘No one understands how everyday is a struggle to get up and go about my days, but if I sit down and let this defeat me then he will only get more satisfaction out of what he’s done.. so I just ask that the focus today is on what he is done and not at how far I have come or what I have felt that I have had to do to overcome what he has done to me.
‘I could honestly keep going on about how much this has changed my life but I am going to leave it at this. I know you will do what you believe is best.’
In a Facebook post after Fleury was sentenced, she said she will now wear her ‘scars as wings.’
Alongside pictures she’d taken in the moments after the attack, she wrote: ‘Today I sat in a court room, surrounded by the people I love most, facing someone that I once believed loved me.
‘Someone who claimed that they would always protect me and keep me safe, but yet was my worst nightmare.
‘I had to listen to his attorney say that when he attacked me, it was intentional. Saying that he claimed ‘he was going to leave his mark for my next boyfriend’.’
‘But today, October 18th, 2018, I have finally gotten a little bit of closure.’
She also warned: ‘Be careful who you are with and who trust, evil is the face of all types.’
As well as seeing her attacker jailed, Hayes has since found love with a new boyfriend.
‘We were only friends when it happened, but he rushed to the hospital and has been by my side ever since,’ she told DailyMail.com.
Now, Hayes – who runs a Facebook page called
‘No longer a victim, but a survivor,’ she adds.
To be continued
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