On a Saturday morning in August 2010 my mother, Sally Challen, 56, killed my father, Richard Challen, 61, at the family home with a hammer to the head 20 times. 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. Coercive control gave my brother and I a voice to speak out.
We campaigned for over 2 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.
Domestic Abuse Campaigner
David Challen is a domestic abuse campaigner 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 February 2019.
David continues to speak out against violence against women, coercive control and recognising women's experiences in the criminal justice system
David is a Prison Advice and Care Trust Ambassador (PACT) and a Freedom Programme Ambassador
Monday, 1st March 2020
Post-separation abuse will become a criminal offence to protect victims
Today the government has announced the controlling or coercive behaviour offence will be extended to include abuse where perpetrators and victims no longer live together. This is a vital step forward recognising the full breadth of domestic abuse and that abuse does not stop when a victim leaves an abusive partner. This law will give more victims a voice and the vital protection they have long needed.
Statement: Read More
Lenient sentences for domestic abuse killings send a dangerous message
Tuesday, 23rd February 2020
When I read last week that pensioner Anthony Williams was sentenced to just five years in prison for the manslaughter of his wife Ruth I was left in disbelief. How could it be deemed acceptable that a man intent on harming his wife will be allowed to walk free after what will realistically amount to a couple of years?
Today I've written in the Metro to share my thoughts on the dangerous message this sentencing sends victims of domestic abuse.
Fatal Domestic Abuse Reporting
Wednesday, 8th, December 2020
Two in three families bereaved by fatal domestic abuse have had their grieving process damaged by the press. These are the findings of a landmark report published today surveying 15 families bereaved by fatal domestic abuse.
This report, a collaboration between myself, Level Up, the feminist campaign group and AAFDA (Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse), a domestic homicide review charity, is pushing to help create better reporting standards.
The Case of Sally Challen
Aired on BBC TWO.
Available now on BBC iPlayer
A landmark film.
A landmark case in domestic abuse.
"THE CASE OF SALLY CHALLEN ON BBC2 SHOWS JUSTICE IS NOT GENDER-BLIND"
"INSIDE THE TRIAL THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR WOMEN"
"This documentary takes us to the heart of one of the most talked-about British legal cases of recent years."
- FINANCIAL TIMES
- THE GUARDIAN
- THE TELEGRAPH
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 witnessing the coercive control my mother endured as well experiencing the prison system she lived in for almost a decade, coercive control helped give me the language to speak out and free my mother.
Since that moment I continue to actively speak out against violence against women as well as the need to promote discussion about healthy/unhealthy relationships.
I have delivered speeches at a variety of events and am keen to help share my story in my role as a PACT and Freedom Programme Ambassador to help others.