Young pastor abducted and gang-raped on wedding day

When Terry Apudo failed to show up at the church for her own wedding, her family immediately knew that something wasn't right. However, the real reason for Terry's absence on her special day was more shocking than anyone could've guessed.

Terry Apudo was a young, respected pastor of a small parish in Nairobi, Kenya. With the wedding to her fiancé Harry Olwande just around the corner, the couple were in the middle of preparations for the biggest day of their lives. As is tradition, the two spent the night before the ceremony apart. When the pastor left the house the next morning, she walked past a man sitting on the bonnet of his car. Suddenly, he grabbed Terry from behind and threw her onto the backseat of the car, where two of his accomplices were waiting for the young woman. They then abducted the bride-to-be:

"A piece of cloth was stuffed in my mouth. I was kicking and hitting out and trying to scream. When I managed to push the gag out, I screamed, 'It's my wedding day!' That was when I got the first blow. One of the men told me to 'co-operate or you will die.'

"The men took turns to rape me. I felt sure I was going to die, but I was still fighting for my life, so when one of the men took the gag out of my mouth I bit his manhood. He screamed in pain and one of them stabbed me in the stomach. Then they opened the door and threw me out of the moving car.

"I was miles from home, outside Nairobi. More than six hours had passed since I had been abducted. A child saw me being thrown out and called her grandmother. People came running. When the police came they tried to get a pulse, but no-one could. Thinking I was dead, they wrapped me in a blanket and started to take me to the mortuary. But on the way there, I choked on the blanket and coughed. The policeman said, 'She's alive?' And he turned the car around and drove me to the biggest government hospital in Kenya.

"I arrived in great shock, murmuring incoherently. I was half-naked and covered in blood, and my face was swollen from being punched. But something must have alerted the matron, because she guessed I was a bride. 'Let's go around the churches to see if they're missing a bride,' she told the nurses.

"By coincidence, the first church they called at was All Saints Cathedral. 'Are you missing a bride?' the nurse asked. The minister said, 'Yes, there was a wedding at 10 o'clock and she didn't come.'"

The wedding guests were left in shock when they found out the reason for Terry's non-appearance. Terry's family and fiancé Harry rushed to the hospital to be by her side. After initial treatment, she was moved to another hospital where the full extent of her injuries came to light.

"That was where the doctors stitched me up and gave me some devastating news, 'The stab wound went deep into your womb, so you won't be able to carry any children.' I was given the morning-after pill, as well as antiretroviral drugs to protect me from HIV and Aids. My mind shut down, it refused to accept what had happened.

"A few days later, when I was less sedated, I was able to look him in the eye. I kept saying sorry. I felt like I had let him down. Some people said it was my own fault for leaving the house in the morning. It was really hurtful, but my family and Harry supported me."

Harry still wanted to marry Terry, so both stood before the altar seven months later than planned in July 2005. Yet as everything seemed to be taking a turn for the better, Terry was dealt another cruel blow. Just 29 days after her wedding, she experienced another disaster.

During a cold night, Harry decided to heat their bedroom with a charcoal burner that's normally used to cook outside. Both then went to bed. When Terry awoke a short time later, she noticed that something wasn't quite right. She felt dizzy and could hardly get out of bed. With the last of her energy, she reached for the telephone next to the bed and called her neighbor. It was at this point that she lost consciousness.

While Terry was saved at the last possible moment, Harry died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the charcoal burner.

Terry became depressed and shut herself off from the outside world. The only visitor she would receive was the pastor Tonny Gobanga, who regularly came to see her so that she could confide in him. Reminding the young widow of the good things in life, Tonny slowly started to build Terry back up. They soon fell in love.

"Tonny proposed marriage but I said, 'Listen, there's another thing - I can't have children, so I cannot get married to you.' But he replied, 'Children are a gift from God. If we get them, Amen. If not, I will have more time to love you.'"

Three years after marrying Harry, Terry now found herself at the altar with Tonny at her side — the man who taught her how to enjoy life again. But a year after this marriage, the young woman started feeling very ill.

"A year into our marriage, I felt unwell and went to the doctor — and to my great surprise he told me that I was pregnant."

Against all expectations, Terry experienced no complications during the pregnancy and gave birth to a daughter named Tehille. Four years later, a second daughter, Towdah, followed.

Terry's attackers were never caught and brought to justice. The young woman described her horrific ordeal in a book she wrote called "Crawling out of Darkness." Together with her husband Tonny, Terry works as a pastor for a small Christian parish in Nairobi. Showing incredible strength, she now uses her terrible experiences to help other rape victims come to terms with what has happened to them.


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