NEWS

Quebec acid burn victim testifies against ex-boyfriend

02/18/2013 02:25 EST | Updated 04/20/2013 05:12 EDT
A woman who was allegedly attacked with acid by her boyfriend last August took the stand today at the Longueuil courthouse on Montreal's South Shore.

Tanya St-Arnauld, 29, detailed her attack during a preliminary hearing for her former boyfriend, Nikolas Stefanatos. Evidence given before that hearing is subject to a publication ban.

Stefanatos is charged with several offences including aggravated assault in connection with an incident that took place early in the morning of Aug. 26 in St-Arnauld's apartment in Longueuil.

St-Arnauld suffered acid burns to much of her body, including third degree burns to her chest and arms.

She was put into a medically induced coma, and over the course of several months, underwent skin grafts.

'This is how I am,' St-Arnauld says

St-Arnauld appeared in court without makeup or a wig, bald patches evident in her short-cropped hair, her arms and face bearing scars.

After her testimony, St-Arnauld spoke to reporters about that decision, saying it was important for the accused, the court and the public to see her as she really is.

"When I'm at home, I don't have the make-up team behind me and the hairstylists and everybody," St-Arnauld said. "I do my best. But when I go out everyday, this is how I am."

"When I have interviews...I try to make myself not scare the population, if you will. But no, I wanted to show everybody this is how I am every day, and it's the time not to hide it. I'm here to tell the truth."

St-Arnauld is preparing to go to Miami, where Dr. Jill Waibel, a dermatologist specializing in scar reduction has offered to treat her for free.

"I'm very blessed, very, very lucky to be working with her," said St-Arnauld, adding the laser treatment Waibel offers is not yet available in Canada. "So — only good news from now on. This is the beginning, not the end."

Stefanatos's preliminary hearing is set to resume on Tuesday, and a decision should be made by the end of the day as to whether his case will proceed to trial.

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