The euthanasia of a young Dutch woman: the “extraordinary” failure of “a profoundly negative message addressed to survivors of sexual abuse”

Publié le 22 May, 2016

A victim of sexual violence herself and suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS), a young woman has denounced media coverage of the euthanasia of a young Dutch woman who was raped during childhood.


Whilst the Daily Mail declares that, in publishing this information, the Dutch Government was “mindful of justifying the law on euthanasia and wanted to show that death by compassion is being carried out under full and correct medical supervision”, it in fact conveyed the opposite. This death is “not the right message to be sending survivors of sexual abuse”. 


Having also been raped, plagued by depression and suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, she recounts how she had the impression that she would never be free of her suicidal thoughts and openly admits that if a doctor had offered to help her put an end to her suffering, she would have “accepted gratefully”.  “Fortunately,” she says, “no doctor gave me that option. I am alive, I can imagine, feel, love and do all the things I thought I would never be capable of doing”.


She recognises the violence and distress caused by situations such as this but remembers that, “all the thoughts and feelings and suicidal tendencies are not permanent, but come and go, like the ebb and flow of the tide”. Therapy helped her to recognise these flows and to understand that they were momentary weaknesses in terms of reasoning.


Even if PTSS is incurable, it is nevertheless manageable. You simply need “help, support and treatment to get through the difficult times” – this is why she is “still alive” today.


For her “the very idea that ‘under full, correct medical supervision’ a doctor can confuse suicidal thoughts with a request for euthanasia is ridiculous”. “A professor of psychiatry cannot fail to notice that someone wishing to end his/her life in these circumstances is not thinking straight at that moment in time and is therefore mentally incapable of making such a decision”.


This report simply highlights the “shocking loopholes in the euthanasia system in the Netherlands” and also sends “a profoundly negative message to survivors of abuse who are already struggling to overcome a torrent of mental scars”. The report omits to tell them that there is hope and they will not always find themselves in this situation.


“This young, faceless, nameless woman has been failed in the most extraordinary way”. The only thing that this has shown is that “a survivor with her entire life ahead of her has been killed prematurely through sheer ignorance”.

The Independent, Jenn Selby (18/05/2016)

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