I sat nervously in my parked car, listening to the deafening thud of my racing heartbeat.
My entire body was consumed with dread.
You can do this, Kayla, I told myself.
I'd reluctantly agreed to meet with my ex-boyfriend, Seth, 23, after breaking up with him a few months before.
We'd dated for 11 months, but I felt trapped the whole time.
Seth was incredibly possessive, manipulative and controlling.
I don't even think he saw me as his girlfriend, but more like his property.
I knew I could never be happy in such a toxic relationship, so I broke it off.
But when he sent me a text message explaining he was going into the navy and wanted to see me one last time before he left, I felt like I couldn't say no.
He said he wanted to right his wrongs and apologise for everything.
Seeing him again was the last thing I felt like doing, but I needed to leave things on a positive note.
So I agreed to meet him on a street near my house to say goodbye.
I felt sick with nerves.
Then, in the distance, I saw him strolling towards my car with a big smile on his face.
He had an enormous bouquet of flowers and a greeting card in his arms.
I took a deep breath and got out of the car to greet him.
"I've missed you, baby!" he yelled out as he came in for a giant bear hug.
"These flowers are for you, and I bought you a card. I need you to read what I wrote right now."
Anxiety washed over me as I noticed the hopeful look in his eyes.
I opened his card and my fears were confirmed.
He'd expressed his undying love for me, apologised for his wrongdoings and begged for us to get back together.
I slowly lowered my head.
"Don't you have anything to say at all?" he demanded angrily.
"I'm… I'm sorry," I uttered quietly.
I turned around to get back into my car when I felt something hit the back of my head.
He'd thrown the flowers and card at me. I started to panic.
My legs were shaking uncontrollably as I sat back down in the car seat.
Before I could even close the door, he was just inches from my face.
He leaned in to kiss me and, instinctively, I pulled away.
But he'd clenched down on my bottom lip with his teeth.
As I tried to push him off, he viciously latched on even harder.
An excruciating jolt of pain tore through my entire body as I felt my lip being ripped off.
"Oh my God!" I screamed.
My body went numb from shock.
Before I knew what was happening, Seth had a fistful of my hair in his hand and was dragging me out of the car.
In a final act of degradation, he violently slammed the car door in my face before walking away.
I felt like I was dying as I lay there helplessly on the road. But when I looked down, my heart stopped.
"What's this?" I murmured, and picked something up off the ground.
I dusted off the gravel and felt bile rise in my throat.
It was my lip. I placed it on my jeans as my head spun.
I was sitting in a pool of blood with my lip on my leg.
I wanted to die.
But then I went into survival mode.
I wrapped my lip in a tissue and called the ambulance.
I caught my reflection in the rear view mirror as I spoke and felt like I was in a horror movie.
My entire face was dripping with blood.
Soon I was being rushed to hospital, where I received over 300 stitches.
"I'm so sorry but we couldn't reattach your lip," my surgeon said.
He explained they had to cut all around my face and cheeks to bring the two sides of my lips together.
"I'm afraid you'll be left with limited movement around your mouth and permanent scarring."
I lay in my hospital bed as tears streamed down my face.
I had no idea how this had all happened. It was so brutal.
Friends and family rushed to my side and were a great support.
Especially my friend Blake, 19.
He visited me constantly and called me up regularly to make sure I was alright.
Our romantic relationship developed naturally.
After being left with permanent scars – inside and out – I never thought anyone could ever want me again.
But Blake showed me that not all men are like my ex.
"You're so beautiful, Kayla," he whispered in my ear, as he gently stroked my scars.
Although I felt sick at the thought of seeing Seth again, I decided I needed to face him to get closure.
So I went to court and was there as Seth Fleury was sentenced to 12 years in jail after pleading guilty to assault and battery of a high aggravated nature.
He will have to serve 85 per cent of his sentence before he becomes eligible for parole.
What frightened me the most is that I was told Seth attacked me on purpose because he wanted to leave his mark on me for life.
When I saw him again, I saw no remorse in his eyes.
I'm just glad I won't need to worry about him walking the streets now that he is in jail.
After the attack, I was forced to withdraw from college, where I was studying to become a dental hygienist.
But I'm hoping to return to college soon and instead focus my studies on domestic violence-related issues.
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