A woman broke down in the witness box yesterday as she described being turned into “a complete zombie” by the man accused of treating her like a slave.
“I was in a situation where everything had been taken from me. My own being was no longer there,” she told a County Court jury in Ballarat.
“He just inflicted pain on me the whole time, whether it was physical or emotional.”
The woman showed the jury a dent and scar in the middle of her forehead where she said she had repeatedly been made to head-butt hard objects.
She said Graeme John Slattery made her hit her head more than 100 times against trees, brick walls, a lamp post, a brick letterbox and a concrete path.
Mr Slattery, 42, has pleaded not guilty to 69 charges including anal rape, 10 counts of indecent assault, 20 of intentionally causing injury and 34 assaults between 1996 and 1999.
The woman, who cannot be identified, said she gave her children, then three and six, to her ex-husband after Mr Slattery put their heads down a toilet, held her son’s head in a bucket of water and hosed down both children.
“She was only friggin’ three,” she exclaimed after telling the court her daughter had been hosed because Mr Slattery would not let her go to the toilet and she soiled her pants.
The woman said Mr Slattery hit her nearly every day.
He called her a selfish bitch the day after she was taken to hospital when she tried to commit suicide while living in Port Fairy in 1997.
Another time she needed hospital treatment for a gashed head after Mr Slattery pushed her over, but was told to lie to nurses about how she was injured.
The day after she said she was allowed to rest in a boat to recover.
“For the first time in all the time since I met him, he let me rest. It was the best day of my life,” she said.
The woman said Mr Slattery made her help him poach abalone at Port Fairy in the summer of 1996-97.
She was made to do hard labour every day while living in the garage at Mr Slattery’s Warrnambool home for a year.
She was sometimes fed once a day, and sometimes not at all, depending on Mr Slattery’s mood.
The court was told she “just felt like a dog” while Mr Slattery laughed as he humiliated her.
“I kept thinking, ‘What have I done to deserve being treated worse than a dog?’ ” she said.
Defence counsel Nick Papas suggested to the woman in cross-examination she had ample opportunity to leave Mr Slattery before she finally did on the night of his birthday in 1999.
She agreed she had been away from Mr Slattery overnight quite a few times, but was afraid she was being watched.
Mr Papas also challenged the woman’s evidence that she stayed with Mr Slattery because he threatened her family.
“I suggest to you that you made a decision to take up with Graeme Slattery and you didn’t want to tell your family,” he said.
He suggested she had exaggerated Mr Slattery’s alleged mistreatment of her at Narre Warren, before they moved to Port Fairy and Warrnambool, and none of it happened.
Mr Papas’s cross-examination will resume today.