E Jean Carroll, the writer suing Donald Trump for allegedly raping her nearly 30 years ago, gave evidence on Wednesday in a civil trial.
She told jurors the former US president had sexually assaulted her and defamed her by lying about it.
“I'm here because Donald Trump raped me and when I wrote about it, he lied and said it didn't happen,” Ms Carroll said in Manhattan federal court.
“He lied and shattered my reputation, and I'm here to try and get my life back.”
Ms Carroll, 79, a former Elle magazine advice columnist, is seeking unspecified damages for defamation and battery from Mr Trump, who is currently leading the Republican field in the 2024 presidential campaign.
The alleged assault occurred in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in late 1995 or early 1996.
After making small talk with Mr Trump as he sought help in buying lingerie for another woman, Ms Carroll said he manoeuvred her into the dressing room.
Once there, Mr Trump shut the door, forced her against a wall and raped her until she was able to flee after two or three minutes, Ms Carroll said.
"As I'm sitting here today, I can still feel it," she said. "It left me unable to ever have a romantic life again."
Asked by her lawyer if she had told Mr Trump "no", Ms Carroll said she "may have said it" but did not know.
Other possible witnesses for Ms Carroll include two friends in whom she confided about the alleged rape, as well as two other women who have accused Mr Trump of sexual assault.
Mr Trump, 76, is not attending the trial, nor is he required to be there.
But he stood by his criticism of Ms Carroll in two posts on his Truth Social platform, prompting the judge to warn his legal team he could face consequences if he continued to discuss the case.
“She didn’t scream? There are no witnesses? Nobody saw this?” Mr Trump wrote.
He also called Ms Carroll's accusations “a made up SCAM” and said: “This is a fraudulent & false story — Witch Hunt!”
His posts prompted US District Judge Lewis Kaplan to tell Mr Trump's legal team, outside the jury's presence, that he appeared to be “endeavouring, certainly, to speak to his 'public'” and to the jury about matters that have “no business being spoken about”.
The judge added that, were he to continue to discuss the case, Mr Trump could be “tampering with a new source of liability”. Mr Trump's lawyer told the judge he would speak with his client.
Ms Carroll denied Mr Trump's repeated suggestions it was because she disliked his politics.
"I'm not settling a political score at all," she said. "I'm settling a personal score because he called me a liar repeatedly, and it really has decimated my reputation."
She said Mr Trump's attacks caused Elle to fire her, costing her eight million readers, and left others convinced she was a liar.
Ms Carroll is suing under New York's Adult Survivors Act, which lets adults sue their alleged abusers long after statutes of limitations have run out.
She broke down when asked if she regretted ending her silence.
"I've regretted this about 100 times," she said. "But in the end being able to get my day in court finally is everything to me."
A six-man, three-woman jury is expected to decide whether to hold Mr Trump liable for damages and how much he would owe.
The trial is expected to last one to two weeks.
Reuters contributed to this report