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Gang-r*ped on Her Wedding Day, Lost Her Husband & More: Female Pastor Tells Heartbreaking Story

A
female pastor has described how she failed to show up at her own
wedding because she was being gang-r*ped, and recalled how on the
morning of her wedding day she was abducted by a group of men who
brutally attacked her for six hours.

Terry Gobanga – then Terry Apudo
 
When Terry Gobanga – then Terry Apudo – didn’t show up
to her wedding, nobody could have guessed that she had been abducted,
r*ped and left for dead by the roadside. It was the first of two
tragedies to hit the young Nairobi pastor in quick succession. But she
is a survivor.
 
Read her story below;
 
***********************************
 
It was going to be a very big wedding. I was a pastor, so all our
church members were coming, as well as all our relatives. My fiance,
Harry, and I were very excited – we were getting married in All Saints
Cathedral in Nairobi and I had rented a beautiful dress.
 
But the night before the wedding I realised that I had some of
Harry’s clothes, including his cravat. He couldn’t show up without a
tie, so a friend who had stayed the night offered to take it to him
first thing in the morning. We got up at dawn and I walked her to the
bus station.
 
As I was making my way back home, I walked past a guy sitting on
the bonnet of a car – suddenly he grabbed me from behind and dumped me
in the back seat. There were two more men inside, and they drove off. It
all happened in a fraction of a second.
 
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 r*pe 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.”
 
When I didn’t show up to the church, my parents were panicking.
People were sent out to search for me. Rumours flew. Some wondered: “Did
she change her mind?” Others said: “No, it’s so unlike her, what
happened?”
 
After a few hours, they had to take down the decorations to make
room for the next ceremony. Harry had been put in the vestry to wait.
 
When they heard where I was, my parents came to the hospital with
the whole entourage. Harry was actually carrying my wedding gown. But
the media had also got wind of the story so there were reporters too.
 
I was moved to another hospital where I’d have more privacy. 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.
 
Harry kept saying he still wanted to marry me. “I want to take care
of her and make sure she comes back to good health in my arms, in our
house,” he said. Truth be told, I wasn’t in a position to say Yes or No
because my mind was so jammed with the faces of the three men, and with
everything that had happened.
 
Harry Olwande and Terry on their wedding day in July 2005
 
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.
 
The police never caught the rapists. I went to line-up after
line-up but I didn’t recognise any of the men, and it hurt me each time I
went. It set back my recovery – it was 10 steps forward, 20 back. In
the end I went back to the police station and said: “You know what, I’m
done. I just want to leave it.”
 
Three months after the attack I was told I was HIV-negative and got
really excited, but they told me I had to wait three more months to be
sure. Still, Harry and I began to plan our second wedding.
 
Although I had been very angry at the press intrusion, somebody
read my story and asked to meet me. Her name was Vip Ogolla, and she was
also a rape survivor. We spoke, and she told me she and her friends
wanted to give me a free wedding. “Go wild, have whatever you want,” she
said.
 
I was ecstatic. I went for a different type of cake, much more
expensive. Instead of a rented gown, now I could have one that was
totally mine.
 
In July 2005, seven months after our first planned wedding, Harry and I got married and went on a honeymoon.
 
Twenty-nine days later, we were at home on a very cold night. Harry
lit a charcoal burner and took it to the bedroom. After dinner, he
removed it because the room was really warm. I got under the covers as
he locked up the house. When he came to bed he said he was feeling
dizzy, but we thought nothing of it.
 
It was so cold we couldn’t sleep, so I suggested getting another
duvet. But Harry said he couldn’t get it as he didn’t have enough
strength. Strangely, I couldn’t stand up either. We realised something
was very wrong. He passed out. I passed out. I remember coming to. I
would call him.
 
 
At times he would respond, at other times he wouldn’t. I pushed
myself out of bed and threw up, which gave me some strength. I started
crawling to the phone. I called my neighbour and said: “Something is
wrong, Harry is not responding.”
 
She came over immediately but it took me ages to crawl to the front
door to let her in as I kept passing out. I saw an avalanche of people
coming in, screaming. And I passed out again.
 
I woke up in hospital and asked where my husband was. They said
they were working on him in the next room. I said: “I’m a pastor, I’ve
seen quite a lot in my life, I need you to be very straight with me.”
The doctor looked at me and said: “I’m sorry, your husband did not make
it.”
I couldn’t believe it.
 
Going back to church for the funeral was terrible. Just a month
earlier I had been there in my white dress, with Harry standing at the
front looking handsome in his suit. Now, I was in black and he was being
wheeled in, in a casket.
 
People thought I was cursed and held back their children from me.
“There’s a bad omen hanging over her,” they said. At one point, I
actually believed it myself.
 
Others accused me of killing my husband. That really got me down – I was grieving.
 
The post-mortem showed what really happened: as the carbon monoxide filled his system, he started choking and suffocated.
 
I had a terrible breakdown. I felt let down by God, I felt let down
by everybody. I couldn’t believe that people could be laughing, going
out and just going about life. I crashed.
 
One day I was sitting on the balcony looking at the birds chirping
away and I said: “God, how can you take care of the birds and not me?”
In that instant I remembered there are 24 hours a day – sitting in
depression with your curtains closed, no-one’s going to give you back
those 24 hours. Before you know, it’s a week, a month, a year wasted
away. That was a tough reality.
 
I told everybody I would never ever get married again. God took my
husband, and the thought of ever going through such a loss again was too
much. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on anybody. The pain is so
intense, you feel it in your nails.
 
 
But there was one man – Tonny Gobanga – who kept visiting. He would
encourage me to talk about my husband and think about the good times.
One time he didn’t call for three days and I was so angry. That’s when
it hit me that I had fallen for him.
 
Tonny proposed marriage but I told him to buy a magazine, read my
story and tell me if he still loved me. He came back and said he still
wanted to marry me.
 
But I said: “Listen, there’s another thing – I can’t have children, so I cannot get married to you.”
 
“Children are a gift from God,” he said. “If we get them, Amen. If not, I will have more time to love you.”
 
I thought: “Wow, what a line!” So I said Yes.
 
Tonny went home to tell his parents, who were very excited, until
they heard my story. “You can’t marry her – she is cursed,” they said.
My father-in-law refused to attend the wedding, but we went ahead
anyway. We had 800 guests – many came out of curiosity.
 
It was three years after my first wedding, and I was very scared.
When we were exchanging vows, I thought: “Here I am again Father, please
don’t let him die.” As the congregation prayed for us I cried
uncontrollably.
 
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.
 
As the months progressed I was put on total bed rest, because of
the stab wound to my womb. But all went well, and we had a baby girl who
we called Tehille. Four years later, we had another baby girl named
Towdah.
 
Today, I am the best of friends with my father-in-law.
 
I wrote a book, Crawling out of Darkness, about my ordeal, to give
people hope of rising again. I also started an organisation called Kara
Olmurani. We work with rape survivors, as I call them – not rape
victims. We offer counselling and support. We are looking to start a
halfway house for them where they can come and find their footing before
going back to face the world.
 
I have forgiven my attackers. It wasn’t easy but I realised I was
getting a raw deal by being upset with people who probably don’t care.
My faith also encourages me to forgive and not repay evil with evil but
with good.
 
The most important thing is to mourn. Go through every step of it.
Get upset until you are willing to do something about your situation.
You have to keep moving, crawl if you have to. But move towards your
destiny because it’s waiting, and you have to go and get it.
 
Source: BBC Africa
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