A woman allegedly held as a slave by a Melbourne couple for eight years says she was allowed outside on her own once – sent to buy yoghurt at 3am.
A Mount Waverley husband and wife, who cannot be named, are standing trial in Victoria’s Supreme Court accused of possessing the Tamil woman, now in her 60s, as a slave between 2007 and 2015.
Through an interpreter the woman, who speaks no English, told investigators the wife gave her $50 and shut her out of the house when the family was short on yoghurt for the children’s school lunches.
The woman said she didn’t know how to get to the shops or how to speak to anyone so she sat outside the house.
“She asked me why I am sitting there, so I said that once daylight comes I will go and get it, I can’t go now,” she said.
“I was scared.”
But she said the woman pulled her back inside the house and began stamping on her legs and kicking her.
The alleged altercation in the early hours drew the attention of the husband, who the woman said questioned what was going on.
“But she won’t listen to anyone, she was still kicking me and she was hitting me – and I think about all these things now, it’s hurting me,” the woman told investigators in October 2015.
“(The wife) said ‘just mind your own business’ and she hit me and hit me.”
The woman collapsed in the family’s home in July 2015 and was taken to hospital by ambulance in an emaciated condition suffering sepsis.
She told investigators she felt like she might be about to die, but that she had got all her work done that day including the washing.
If she put clothes aside to fold the next day, the wife could come into her room and put the clothes on her face, she said.
Investigators questioned how the woman’s life had changed since first moving in with the family in 2007.
“I’m somebody else,” she replied.