Five years later, an art student who lost the ability to draw after making peaks feels insecure


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A fine arts student who lost the use of her drawing hand for weeks after her drink was spiked said she still felt “vulnerable” on her night out five years later.

Lancaster University graduate Polly Sutherland was drugged at the age of 19 and said paramedics, medics and the students’ union were not taking her complaints about the incident seriously.

Miss Sutherland, from Stone in Staffordshire, was at the university’s Sugarhouse, run by the student union, in December 2016 when friends noticed her behaving strangely.

The graduate, who also has type 1 diabetes, said being drugged had forced her to use a cane for about a month because it damaged her blood sugar levels, which can be fatal for people with the disease.



Polly sutherland

Remembering the night, Miss Sutherland, now 24, said: ‘I don’t remember anything suspicious, or noticing anything.

“It’s just that later that night some friends with me noticed that my personality had changed – I looked very different… erratic.

“So they took me home, I went to bed, but when I woke up in the morning I had a lot of body weakness and muscle twitching in my arms, legs, really everywhere.”

She continued, “When I went to (my GP) they weren’t very helpful.

“I remember being very disappointed, because I went up to them and said, ‘From what’s going on, I think I’ve been doped.’

“They almost raised their eyebrows, almost accusing me of doing drugs, and I was trying to get out of it somehow or make excuses.

“I felt very disappointed with the doctors at that time. “

Miss Sutherland had to apply for time extensions in the final year of her art degree because she was unable to paint or draw as a result of the incident.

She said she reported the incident to the Lancaster University Students’ Union (LUSU), but received little response.

When asked how the incident made her feel, she replied, “Very… I don’t want to use the word raped, because it might be too strong.

“But it’s scary to think of what could have happened.

“I’m lucky to have a lot of friends around me who brought me home when they noticed something was wrong, so I’m very grateful for that, because I don’t know. not for what purpose this person came out.

“It made me feel very vulnerable. Even now, when I go out at night, I’m very careful about it now, and it’s in my head all the time. “


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The graduate, who is now in her sophomore year of political studies at Keele University, said she joined the Girls Night In movement, which sees students boycotting clubs following reports of incidents related to alcohol consumption.

But she said: “What bothers me is that with the boycott, it’s up to the girls, again, to stay.

“I think it’s up to us that we’re the ones to stay because it’s happening, it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re not drugged, instead of telling people not to bite people.”

Miss Sutherland said clubs should use CCTV and scan ID cards at the entrance, instead of just checking them with the naked eye, so they have a record of who is present each evening.

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Kayleen C. Rice