Students ‘still feel vulnerable in the evenings’ five years after alleged spiking | Violence against women and girls

A former art student who had to use a walking stick and lost the use of her hand for several weeks after she thought she was a sharpener has said she still feels vulnerable about going out, five years after the alleged incident .

Polly Sutherland, who studied at Lancaster University, was 19 when her friends noticed that she behaved uncharacteristically during an evening at the university’s student association club, Sugarhouse, in December 2016.

The 24-year-old, who has type 1 diabetes, said in the midst of a sharp rise in the number of increases across the UK that being anesthetized destabilized her blood sugar levels, which could be potentially fatal to people with the condition. It also affected her mobility and the use of her drawing hand.

She does not remember that anything suspicious happened, she said, but when her friends noticed that she was behaving irregularly, they took her home. The following morning she woke up with “bodily weakness and twitching in my arms, legs, all over”.

“It’s scary to think about what could have happened. I’m lucky I had a lot of friends around me who took me home when they discovered something was not right, so I’m very grateful for that. for I know not what the purpose was. ” she told PA Media.

“It made me feel very vulnerable. Even now, when I go out in the evenings, I’m very careful about it now, and it’s in the back of my mind all the time. ”

She said doctors and the students’ union did not take her complaints about the incident seriously.

“When I went to [my GP] they were not very helpful, ”she said. “I remember feeling really disappointed because I went to them and said, ‘From what’s happening, I think I’ve been pissed.’

“They almost raised their eyebrows, almost accused me of taking drugs, and I tried to get out of it somehow or make excuses. I felt very let down by the doctors at the time.”

She said she reported the incident to the union but did not receive a sufficient response.

Unable to paint or draw after the alleged incident, she had to apply for an extension of time in the final year of her art education.

Now a second-year policy student at Keele University, Sutherland has joined the Girls Night In movement, which organized a nationwide boycott of nightclubs Wednesday night, but she said she does not like that it still places the burden on women.

“I think the fact that it’s us who have to stay in because this is happening puts it on us – it’s our responsibility to make sure we do not get sharp, instead of telling people. that they should not tip people. “

She said clubs should use CCTV and scan ID cards instead of just checking them, to keep a record of who was present each night.

A spokesman for the Lancaster University Student Union said: “We have thoroughly investigated our records for this period and we can not find any report on this incident. If that student contacts us with further information, we will of course investigate the matter. All other reports whether incidents at that time were thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken.

“Anyone found spiking would be reported to the police, reported to the university dean’s and expelled from the Sugar House for life. All victims of spiking will receive immediate first aid by dedicated welfare staff and taken to hospital if necessary or if they request it. that.”

Lancaster University said: “We are proud that Lancaster is a safe place to study and are saddened to hear of any of our students being assaulted in this way. Sugarhouse is owned and managed by Lancaster University’s student union, and we cannot comment on individual incidents.

“But if any of our students have security issues related to spiking or other forms of abuse, then we would strongly encourage them to report them to the university, and we have created a number of ways in which our students can do so. We would also encourage students to report such incidents to the police. “

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