How did it feel to be forced into sexual intercourse despite having repeatedly said no? The 30-year-old woman testifying in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's Tuesday morning didn't hesitate in her reply when she was asked the question by the Crown prosecutor.
"It felt like I died."
Growing emotional at points, the woman told the court she was sexually assaulted by Max Vivian, now 28, in his St. John's apartment in September 2015.
Vivian has pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm.
The woman was equally assertive when responding to questions from defence lawyer Mike King, who attempted to poke holes in a number of aspects of her testimony, suggesting that her visit to Max's apartment had unfolded exactly as they had planned in advance through text messages.
"I'd suggest you enjoyed yourself," King said.
"And I'd suggest you don't know what you're talking about," the woman curtly replied. "He's a rapist."
The woman told the court she and Vivian had vaguely known each other in the past, but had reconnected online in the preceding weeks, and had begun a texting relationship with the goal of getting together for sex and to have a good time. The woman came from out of town in a taxi to Vivian's east end apartment after they arranged to spend a couple of days together, she said. After watching some Netflix, the couple kissed and touched, which the woman said was consensual.
The woman told the court Vivian then grew aggressive, grabbing and biting different parts of her body, at which point she asked him to stop. He didn't, she said, and he then grabbed her by the hair and attempted to force her to perform oral sex on him. After attempting a number of times to get him to stop, the woman said, she bit Vivian's penis. She testified that he then grabbed her hair, pushed her into his bedroom and forced her onto the bed, where he sexually assaulted her by having intercourse while she cried and pleaded with him to stop.
"I said stop. He kept going," the woman said, indicating she felt violated. "It felt like forever."
The woman said Vivian then left the apartment and went to work, while she attempted to calm herself down enough to gather her belongings and leave. She told the court she took photos of her breasts, which were covered in bruises.
Upon leaving the apartment and attempting unsuccessfully to contact her ex-partner to pick her up, the woman said, she returned to Vivian's place for a few minutes in order to charge her dead cellphone enough to call a cab to take her out of town.
The woman went to the hospital three days later for a sexual assault exam, and reported the alleged assault to police, giving statements to the RCMP and the RNC. An officer took two photos of the woman's injuries, which included lacerations and extensive bruising on her breast and neck.
King questioned the woman on text conversations she and Vivian had prior to meeting, in which they discussed having dominant sex, with the woman calling Vivian "master" and he calling her "slave" in the messages. She acknowledged sending Vivian a message saying, "Bite me," to which he replied, "On Wednesday I will."
"And that's what it was supposed to be (dominant sex)," she told the court through tears, "until I realized that's not what I wanted. I said no."
King questioned the woman on how much she had to drink the night in question, pointing out inconsistencies between what she had told the court and what was written in her medical report, and asked her about her weight while questioning her on how Vivian was able to force her into the bedroom and hold her down.
"Size has nothing to do with strength," the woman replied.
At one point, King asked the woman if there was anything she could have done to protect herself from Vivian.
"No, nothing," the woman said.
King also questioned the woman about her criminal record, which includes a conviction in 2013 for providing a false statement to police in relation to a separate matter, and presented her with a business report prepared by the taxi service she had hired to take her to town. The document indicated a taxi had also brought her back home two days later, not on the same night. The woman explained she had pre-booked a return trip with the taxi company, but hadn't needed the return portion of the trip because she was already home.
King scoffed at the idea.
"The truth is you never left Max Vivian's apartment until September 4th, like you had planned," King suggested.
"No, I left on the 2nd," the woman said.
"There's no emotional trauma here, is there? There was no physical trauma here. I suggest you enjoyed what happened to you at Max Vivian's house," King said.
"No. No one would," the woman replied. "The truth is that everything that happened was planned, but I said no and he didn't stop. That is rape."
Vivian's trial continues this morning.