“I refuse to believe there was no hope for Noa – The tragedy of rape survivor Noa Pothoven

Author’s note: This piece originally appears in the Daily Telegraph. I am aware that Noa Pothoven did not die by euthanasia, but rather by starvation, however, I felt inspired to write this opinion piece to give hope to young people who are struggling with depression or trauma. I wrote this piece to speak light into the lives of those reading – through the use of my own story and that of my client Prema (a fellow child abuse survivor) – that no matter what we go through in life, there is hope for healing and brighter days. We must hold on to hope; that is the only way through the dark times. 

Awaking, I turn on my laptop to check the news. The very first thing I see, shocks me to my absolute core. It’s a headline reporting that a 17-year-old girl has ended her life. 

Desperately I scroll through the article, hoping that it’s just some twisted piece of
click-bait. Tragically, it isn’t.

As announced through her Instagram, Netherlands teenager Noa Pothoven shared she had received support to “be released”.

The most shocking part, however, was that Noa was not elderly on her death bed, nor was she battling an incurable form of cancer.

Noa was a woman on the cusp of adulthood, who — like so many of our youth — was struggling to rise above depression and suicidal thoughts.

She was a young woman who had been sexually violated and abused multiple times throughout her childhood, in ways that no person ever should, and who felt that she could not rise above the trauma inflicted upon her.

Noa had even written a book about her life, titled ‘Winning or Learning,’ and was very open with her struggles with anorexia, depression and long term post-traumatic stress.

News reports of her death initially pointed to euthanasia — as the teen had attempted to take this avenue in the past — but have since suggested she starved herself to death, reportedly with her parent’s consent not to force feed her.

Regardless of the mystery surrounding the tragic circumstances, it is clear that no one intervened.

Reading her story, my heart broke, because I too know what it’s like to be in that pit of suicidal despair. I too have experienced traumas in my childhood and young adult years.

And, just like Noa, I too craved a way out on far too many occasions.

Growing up with a mentally and verbally abusive father, and then experiencing sexual assault at the hands of a friend when I was just 20, I understand how it feels to believe that the nightmares, flashbacks, and internal self-loathing will last forever.

With every fibre of my being, I believed that I was truly alone, and everyone would be better off without me.

My teenage self was not aware that the voices in my head were ugly lies with zero truth to them.

But at the time I believed them, because, like Noa I was a child whose brain had not yet finished developing. I was stuck in the ‘bubble’ that is the world of a teenager, with no idea that life could one day change for the better…


PS. Don’t have a subscription to Daily Telegraph but want to read the full article? Receive a limited-time, FREE PDF COPY by subscribing to my work and showing your support for my mental health advocacy. 

AND, if you’re looking for inspiring, hopeful stories of triumph over trauma, I totally recommend grabbing a copy of my book ‘Reasons to Live’ at www.jasrawlinson.com



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s