Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Martyrdom of Noa Pothoven

Initial reports told us that medical authorities has assisted 17-year-old Dutch girl, Noa Pothoven, in committing suicide. As the narrative was spun, Pothoven had been sexually molested when she was eleven. She was raped when she was 14.

She had undergone a series of unsuccessful psychiatric treatments. When they all failed, she consulted with an assisted suicide center. The center rejected her request, even though Dutch law allows assisted suicide beginning at age 12 (with parental authorization). Pothoven’s parents wanted her to undergo electroconvulsive treatment, a therapy that has long yielded positive results with intractable depression. The medical authorities deemed the girl too young.

So, Noa Pothoven simply starved herself to death, under the aegis of her family, her friends and the medical authorities. Apparently, everyone thought that force feeding, often prescribed for anorexia, would violate her rights.

The Washington Post has the story:

A Dutch teenager who suffered from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia after being raped as a child was allowed to die at her home, her sister confirmed on Sunday.

In what she termed a “sad last post” on Instagram, Noa Pothoven, 17, wrote Saturday that she would be dead within 10 days. But it had been “so long,” she added, since she had “really been alive.”

“After years of struggling and fighting, it’s over,” she reported. The teenager, from the city of Arnhem in the eastern part of the Netherlands, said she had stopped eating and drinking and would soon be “released because my suffering is unbearable.”

Of course, this is monstrous. In a nation that rejects capital punishment and will not extradite a criminal who is facing it, the authorities, including parents, allowed a child to starve herself to death.

Intended or not, the death sends a message. It says that when a girl is raped, her life is effectively over. This martyrdom sends a message about the horror of rape, but it also tells rape victims that recovery is impossible.

They might have examined the case of Elizabeth Smart, a woman who was raped hundreds of times when she was a teenager, but who has recovered, has married and has had children. Smart has become a victim’s advocate.

Did Smart have better treatment? I recall that she had very little psychiatric treatment. Apparently, she belonged to a strong and cohesive community in Utah, one that welcomed her back and acted as though nothing had happened. Community attitudes do matter. If a woman is embraced by her community and treated as though nothing has happened, her chances of recovery increase. If people shun her and consign her to permanent victimhood, she has very little to live for.

Was such the case for Noa Porthoven? We do not know. We do know that psychiatrists failed her. They acted as though she was a hopeless case. They validated her most negative feelings. And her parents seemed to acquiesce.

If the age limit for electroshock is 18, they surely could have made a small exception. If she refused to eat, they were not compelled to respect her wishes. Because a seventeen year old is effectively a child. If it was necessary to force feed her, they should have done so. Medical authorities and parents should not respect the free will of a traumatized child.

As it happened, Porthoven wrote a book about her ordeal. The Washington Post describes the situation:

In her book, Noa traces the origins of her mental anguish. At the age of 11, she was assaulted at a school party — and again at a gathering of teenagers a year later. When she was 14, she wrote, she was raped by two men in the Elderveld neighborhood of Arnhem.

For years, she kept the violations secret, out of shame. It was only years later that her family learned what she had endured, after her mother came across a cache of letters saying goodbye to her loved ones. She remained too afraid to make a formal declaration to the police. “I can’t,” the teenager said.

You will note the implication. The story hints at the possibility that Porthoven’s feelings of shame were preventing her from going public and from going to the police. And yet, she eventually did go public by writing a book. She became an advocate, not so much for rape victims, but for allowing rape to destroy her life.

As though the story were not bad enough, consider this closing in the Washington Post article:

A Dutch lawmaker, Lisa Westerveld, visited Noa before her death, surrounded by family and friends in her living room, and said she was struck by the teenager’s strength. She told De Gelderlander that it was “nice to see her again,” though the circumstances were “surreal.”

“I will never forget her,” she vowed. “We will continue her struggle.”

Think of it, she was surrounded by family and friends as she let herself die. No one intervened to stop it. No one intervened to save her. Some idiot lawmaker opined that Porthoven was making a point, engaging in a struggle. In truth, the girl was, with the assistance of friends and family, giving up, embracing defeat… and martyring herself for a political cause.


Sam L. said...

What WAS her political cause?

Webutante said...

That victimization triumphs slow, often painful recovery and moving forward. Some people won't give up their hopeless narrative and choose to stay forever stuck. Then spiral down to utter darkness.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

One more human being gone. A win for the Left. She won’t consume anymore energy.

UbuMaccabee said...

Sam, she was fighting for nihilism worldwide. She looked into the abyss—and the abyss emptied out her fridge.

Anonymous said...

I have suffered from borderline personality disorder for many, many years. I was abused as a child, raped and kidnapped in my early 20's. I received ineffective therapy along the way, never addressing the BPD. It was hell. In my late 50's I finally found a therapist who could really help me, and I've been improving ever since. I'm now 71. I, too, thought of suicide when I was young. I truly understand Noa's pain, but I'm so sorry she gave in to it and didn't keep trying to get help. Sometimes, it takes many years! I do believe in euthanasia, but not in Noa's case.