'I breathe but I do not live': Teenage rape victim dies after refusing all food and water

Noa Pothoven suffered Post Traumatic Stress after being raped several times.
Noa Pothoven suffered Post Traumatic Stress after being raped several times.  Photo: Instagram

A 17-year-old Dutch girl who was repeatedly sexually assaulted and suffered from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia has died.

Noa Pothoven died at the weekend several days after refusing all fluids and foods. Her parents and doctors agreed that they would not force feed her.

"I love you, sis - 02-06-2019," her sister, Isa Pothoven, wrote on social media.

In a post to Instagram before her death, Ms Pothoven shared her decision: "I will get straight to the point: within a maximum of 10 days I will die," she said. "After years of battling and fighting, I am drained. I have quit eating and drinking for a while now, and after many discussions and evaluations, it was decided to let me go because my suffering is unbearable.

"I have not really been alive for so long, I survive, and not even that. I breathe but no longer live."

The teenager added that she had asked family and friends to "not convince me that this is not good, this is my decision and it is final".

"Love is letting go, in this case."

It had been reported the teenager had been "legally euthanised" with the help of the Levenseindekliniek (end of life clinic) in the Hague, but those claims have since been denied. Ms Pothoven did contact the clinic last year, but her case was not given approval to go ahead. 

In December 2018 after learning their daughter had approached the clinic without their knowledge, Ms Pothoven's desperate parents Frans and Lisette told local news Gelderlander, "We have tried everything ... time is running out, that's how it feels."


Dutch MP Lisa Westerveld who visited Ms Pothoven before she died said she was impressed by the teenager's strength. "I will never forget her. We will continue her struggle," Ms Westerveld told de Gelderlander.


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In her prize-winning autobiography, Winning and LearningMs Pothoven wrote of being sexually assaulted at a school party at the age of eleven and twelve and raped by two men when she was 14. The book describes multiple hospitalisations, including forced admissions, and years of hiding the abuse and her suffering due to shame.


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"Out of fear and shame I relive the fear, that pain every day,"  she writes. "Always scared, always on my guard. And to this day my body still feels dirty. My house has been broken into, my body, that can never be undone. "


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According to The Levenseindekliniek in the Netherlands, doctors may only provide assisted dying, "if the patient makes a clear and autonomous request and is enduring unbearable and unendurable suffering, if no other reasonable solution is foreseeable, and if the patient realises the consequences of what they are requesting."

Under the act, patients who are 16 or 17 years of age can make the request without their parents' permission, although their parents do need to be involved in the discussions.

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Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

* Essential Kids previously reported Ms Pothoven had been legally euthanised. We apologise for the error.