The Sally Challen Case

In 2011, Sally Challen was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the murder of her husband, Richard. Her case has drawn a lot of attention in the United Kingdom over the past few weeks because she was recently granted the right to appeal the court's decision. Why? Challen's lawyers claim there is new evidence that suggests Sally's husband was abusive to her, and under the 2015 law outlawing coercive and controlling behavior, her lawyers are arguing that she was the victim in the case and Richard's death was an act of self-protection.

David Challen, Sally's son, has spoken out publicly in support of his mother, requesting her conviction be reduced to manslaughter and that she be released with eight years already served. He was joined by many advocates in the UK who launched a campaign in support. Challen's legal team reportedly plans to introduce new evidence that shows extreme coercive and controlling behavior, including evidence that "Richard humiliated her, isolated her, lied to her about his affairs with other women, controlled her finances, and raped her, after she kissed one of his friends on the cheek." [1]

This particular case is important to watch for many, including those interested in how implementation of a coercive control law could play out in the U.S., but even more importantly for victims in the U.K., as the reality of living under a regime of coercive control and the lasting damage it causes is now receiving national attention.

Eva Wiseman recently wrote about how this case changes things for victims in The Guardian:

"Sally Challen’s case has the potential to change, if not the world, where men will surely continue to abuse women until what it means to be a man changes completely, then the way we look at the world, and in turn, the women suffering inside it. This case has comprehensively laid out the ways in which women are crushed by their abusers. It’s shown the depth of violence women suffer in these relationships, the lack of control they have, whether of their bank accounts or how regularly they’re allowed to go to the toilet, and so in turn, explains how difficult it can be to leave this house, this double-glazed prison.

"We know the role that children play in these stories, we’ve seen how mothers will put themselves at risk to protect them. If Sally’s appeal is successful, as her son David (who has been campaigning steadily for her release, calmly answering questions about his father’s death on Good Morning, and calling for mental abuse to be taken more seriously in this country) is hoping, then thousands of women living in similar small hells, could be freed too."

This is certainly a case we will keep an eye on. For more on this case:

Written by Abigail Hazlett