Sally Challen, a British woman who murdered her abusive husband in 2010, will inherit her husband’s million-dollar estate, the New York Times reports. Challen, who suffered decades of abuse by her husband, beat him to death and was sentenced to life in prison in 2011. But in 2015, the British government made “coercive control,” a series of abusive tactics that include “humiliation, isolating someone from friends and family, or controlling a person’s movement or financial resources” according to the Times, a criminal offense. Challen filed an appeal under the new law, pleading guilty to the lesser crime of manslaughter and was released from prison last year, after a judge sentenced her to time served.
When Challen killed her husband, she was stripped of the right to inherit the family estate where she had lived, and suffered her abuse, during her marriage. The estate went to her two sons, but a judge now says due to the extreme circumstances of Challen’s case, she is entitled to inherit the estate. Challen, however, will not claim the inheritance and initially pursued it to prevent her sons from paying an inheritance tax.
Challen’s case and the work it triggered to change domestic abuse laws in the UK is a reminder that legal systems across the globe are often designed to erase people attempting to flee domestic abuse. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that in the United States, “1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men” experience some sort of intimate partner violence, “during one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.” Regardless of the exemplary outcome, Challen’s legal battle is anything but unique.