A 29-year-old woman and her two children were rescued on Tuesday (21 November) from an underground cellar of an Italian house after being held captive for 10 years.

According to police, the woman who is originally from Romania was imprisoned in the house since 2007 and was sexually abused and tortured, Repubblica reports.

The woman is now undergoing treatment in a hospital while her nine-year-old son and three-year-old daughter are in care. The 50-year-old Italian man, who has a criminal record for sexual assault, has been arrested for family mistreatment, slavery and sexual violence.

According to reports, the then 19-year-old woman had come to Italy to work as a caretaker for an Italian family. Some reports suggest that the woman was employed to look after an ailing Italian man who used to live with his son or an ailing Italian woman and her male partner.

After the death of the ailing member, the man kept the caretaker as his hostage.

She was reportedly kept in many apartments before being finally moved to the underground cellar near Gizzeria in the Calabria region of Italy.

In order to stop her from escaping, the man chained the doors of the cellar and the woman was forced to stay in the dark. She was made to sleep on beds made of cardboard and the toilets were made from rubbish bins.

After being sexually abused for years, the woman gave birth to two children – a boy and a girl. The woman said she never saw a doctor during her two pregnancies. After the children were born, even they were made to live in the same appalling conditions.

The older child, the son, was reportedly forced to torture his mother. According to local Italian media, the boy even attended school and travelled with the man in his car.

During one of these rides, police stopped the man's car for a routine check and became concerned over the boy's welfare and then came to know about the man's house.

Taken aback by the boy's dirty appearance, the police demanded they speak to the boy's mother and be taken to where the child lived.

This was when the officers uncovered the underground cellar and immediately removed the woman and her children.