Christian Hughes, who was found guilty on two counts of raping the woman at his Co Laois apartment, had denied the charges.
It meant the 41-year-old woman had to face a gruelling cross-examination over two days during the Central Criminal Court trial.
“I felt I was guilty, I felt like I was the one who had committed the crime, not him,” she told the Sunday World this week.
Details of Hughes’s crimes were heard at a recent sentence hearing. The court was told that he had attacked the woman, with whom he had been in a relationship.
She was shocked to discover that while they had being seeing each other, Hughes was already on the Sex Offenders’ register for an attack on a 17-year-old in 2007.
On that occasion he assaulted the teenager, who had been sleeping rough, after offering her a place to stay.
She also pointed out that Hughes, unlike her, never had to take the stand and defend his version of events to the jury, which is his legal right.
The attack happened in August 2016 after the couple had a meeting with a social worker.
While Hughes, who had previously been convicted of head-butting the woman, accepted sex had taken place, he claimed it had been consensual.
During her evidence, she described how she had told him ‘no’ several times but he continued and, while horrified, she ‘froze a little’ as she tried to resist.
At one point during the second rape Hughes bit the woman on the shoulder. She was eventually able to leave the apartment and immediately called gardai.
This week, she told the Sunday World how Hughes had gradually become more controlling and coercive as the relationship went on.
After going through the experience of a criminal trial, she said she has eventually come out of the entire ordeal a stronger person.
“Him being locked up might save another woman going through the same experience,” she said.
“I didn’t think I’d find it so hard, to be honest. I was the one who was questioned for two days solid.
“I had to re-live the whole horrific experience.
“I was torn apart completely, one hundred per cent torn to shreds. I thought if I can get through this, I can get through anything.”
She admits she wasn’t in court when the jury came back with a guilty verdict on one of the rapes during a second day of deliberations.
“I’d had enough, I was shattered from it all,” she revealed.
“The whole trial thing does shatter you.
“If someone had told me he was going to go free for the whole thing, it would have shattered me.” The woman first met Hughes when she was standing at a bus stop and they got chatting after she commented on his dog.
Soon, he helped her find an apartment to live in close to his own place, and within six months had proposed to her.
“It knocked me for six,” she said, when told Hughes had a previous conviction for sexual assault.
“So much happened in the space of six months – it is hard to process.
“What bothers me the most is that he seemed nice at the start.
“He was abusive, even in the sense that if I went out to a shop he wanted to know who I had spoken to.”
She said he followed her on occasion to the shop where she worked.
“It was intimidating, even my co-workers got freaked out by him.
“There were warning signs. I should have run, but I didn’t. I suppose I felt vulnerable at the time.”
Her victim impact statement was read out in court, in which she described the long-lasting effects the ordeal has had on her.
“I was left a nervous wreck for years going into [town] for fear of bumping into Christian following the rape.
“My self-confidence was shattered. I lived in fear all the time. I couldn’t eat or sleep properly, I only left the house when I had to.”
She said that even passing through the town where the attack happened left her with a feeling of “dread”.
“I saw him once [when I was] with my mum, he called out to me a few times. I ignored him.
“My home life and relationships are badly affected. My life will never be the same again.
“I am constantly looking over my shoulder. I have problems trusting people.
“He was abusive, controlling and manipulating in our relationship. He kept things about his past from me and he was very secretive.
“He only revealed to me he was imprisoned for 10 months for sexual assault and was on the sex register when he had to. He seemed nice at the start but slowly revealed his true colours.
“People tried to warn me about him. I wish I had listened.
“My life will never be the same again thanks to him.
“He tried to destroy everything good in my life, he even wanted to know who I talked to or met up with.
“I hope he knows the unfixable damage he has done to me. I am not the same person I was. I never will be, thanks to Christian.”
Hughes, who has been in custody since his conviction in March, is due to be sentenced next month.