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David Challen

David Challen

Domestic Abuse Campaigner

David Challen is a domestic abuse campaigner, writer and keynote speaker. He successfully campaigned to free his mother Sally Challen in a landmark appeal recognising the lifetime of coercive control she suffered in 2019. 


David continues to speak out against men's violence against women, coercive control and the impact of domestic abuse on children, as well as men's role in tackling misogyny.

David is an advisor to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales and an Ambassador for the Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) and the Employers' Initiative on Domestic Abuse.

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My Story

On a Saturday morning in August 2010 my mother, Sally Challen, 56, killed my father, Richard Challen, 61, at the family home. The next day my mother drove me to work whilst my father’s body lay undiscovered on the family kitchen floor, I stepped out of the car and she made a point to tell me she loved me. Afterwards she drove to Beachy Head to end her life but was talked down, arrested and convicted of murder.

In 2015 coercive control was made an offence, in turn it not only helped provide a deeper understanding of domestic abuse in acknowledging psychological and emotional violence it helped provide a language for the abuse my brother and I witnessed from our father. We believed the abuse our mother suffered over 40 years resulted in a loss of control, supported by new evidence of multiple mental disorders. Coercive control gave my brother and I a voice to speak out about the abuse we witnessed. 

We campaigned for over two years to bring to light a true understanding of the events that led to our father’s death and in February 2019 we successfully quashed our mother's murder conviction. In June later that year our mother was released from prison on the grounds of diminished responsibility and returned to the family.


My mother's case created national and international awareness of coercive control, giving voice to countless silent victims of abuse.

Read more here.

Open Justice Campaign: David speaks to Byline Times about barriers to justice victims face.

19th April 2024

Speaking to Byline Times, David talks about the Open Justice campaign fighting to remove barriers to justice victims of crime face. David tells his own experience of trying to access court transcripts that offer a vital lifeline of transparency, understanding and a therapeutic means of recovery for victims who pass through the criminal justice system.


Joining the powerful voices of survivors like Juliana and Charlotte, who both speak out about their barrier to accessing court transcripts, the Open Justice campaign is a landmark campaign whose goal is removing the thousands of pounds of costs victims are expected to pay to access these transcripts.

Read More

Guardian Op-Ed:  'Race of truth: F1 must provide transparency and a commitment to women’s inclusivity and safety.'

10th March 2024

David writes in The Guardian today about the importance for Formula One to provide transparency and commitment to women's inclusivity and safety in the sport amid allegations of coercive behaviour against Red Bull Racing CEO, Christian Horner by a female colleague.


Can global sports teams, like Red Bull, be trusted to be impartial when internally investigating serious allegations of abusive behaviour? Or is this a case of marking their own work?

Read More

TALK: Victim Support NI Conference 2024 'What Price Justice? A Costs Conundrum'

17th February 2024

David speaks at the Victim Support Northern Ireland 2024 conference on 'What Price Justice? A Costs Conundrum: balancing the financial and human costs of seeking justice.' David's talk engages on the barriers victims of crime face when seeking court transcripts for therapeutic means of closure. Citing his own experience as well as those of other victim's the need to overhaul the experience victims face against a denial of public cost to transcription requests and the destruction of court recordings that place a time limit for victims coming forward seeking the closure they need.


The conference is attended by the Justice Minister for Northern Ireland, Director of Victim Support Europe and amongst many others, Jane Connors, Victims' Rights Advocate for the United Nations.


INTERVIEW: Victims charged tens of thousands of pounds for court documents

21st January 2024 

David speaks to The Independent about victims of crime being forced to pay thousands of pounds for court transcripts. Speaking to Maya Oppenheim, David cites his own experiences of the enormous financial barrier to requesting court transcripts that offer a therapeutic means of recovery and that many victims of sexual assault are even denied judgements, calling it a 'dark ages practice' that needs to be abolished.


‘It robs you, essentially, as a victim of crime, of your emotional capacity to come to terms with what you’ve experienced,’



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The Case of Sally Challen 

Aired on BBC TWO.

Previously available on BBC iPlayer.

(Viewer link on request via Contact Me section)

A landmark film.

A landmark case in domestic abuse.





"This documentary takes us to the heart of one of the most talked-about British legal cases of recent years."



The Sally Challen Case

Many other women who are victims of abuse and violence are in prison today serving life sentences, and I know this because I have met them.

They have suffered abuse and other miscarriages of justice and should be serving sentences for manslaughter and not murder - Sally Challen

No one should become homeless after fleeing domestic abuse in any society, but it is happening in ours right now.


Anyone fleeing domestic abuse must have a guaranteed safe, permanent home”

"2 in 3 families bereaved by fatal domestic abuse have had their grieving process damaged by the press.

In collaboration with Level Up and AAFDA we are calling for better reporting standards so victims feel safe to share their stories without fear of further trauma


Two women a week die at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. Yet less than 1% of perpetrators currently receive an intervention to challenge their behaviour.

We must publish a Perpetrator Strategy.

It’s vital to specifically recognise the bespoke nature of post-separation abuse by ensuring the Domestic Abuse Bill provides a complete acknowledgement of survivors experiences and protection in the future. 




Having spent the majority of my life experiencing coercive control and domestic abuse in the home, I value the need for society to be aware of all forms of violence that exist in all parts of our society.

I continue to actively speak out against violence against women as well as the need to promote discussion about healthy/unhealthy relationships and what men can do to help challenge misogyny in today's society.

I share my story, learning and awareness of these issues across all sectors and across a variety of clients. I share my voice in my role as an Ambassador for both the Prison Advice and Care Trust and Employers' Initiative on Domestic Abuse to help others.

If you'd like to book me to speak at your event please get in touch via the Contact Me section at the bottom of this page!

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