SALLY Challen, who had her murder conviction overturned in a landmark decision under coercive control laws, has said schoolchildren should be educated to ensure young people understand the impact of domestic abuse.

Coercive control refers to behaviour by an abuser to harm, punish, or frighten their victim, and can include assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation.

Mrs Challen was speaking at the Senedd on her first visit to Wales since her release from prison.

She spoke about the decades of emotional and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband, Richard, during their 31-year marriage.

Mrs Challen's murder conviction for killing her husband was quashed last year, based on her having undiagnosed mental health problems, to which years of coercive control and domestic abuse had been a serious contributing factor.

The campaign to have Mrs Challen freed had been led by her son, David, who also spoke in the Senedd.

He talked of the impact his parents' relationship had on him, and warned that coercive control and its effects were still not fully understood.

He called for engagement with schools to help young people understand domestic abuse and coercive control and to hopefully avoid damaging patterns of behaviour.

Mrs Challen also supported the idea, saying: "I think [education] should start in schools. I don’t know how it could be rolled out, but I think young people need to know what is good behaviour in a relationship and what isn’t. And if you try and educate children - I don’t know what age they’d start - then there could be a change.

“One of the problems is we have children who are so used to seeing [abuse] in their own family. It’s maybe that courses run in schools can help highlight problems at home for children who take those courses.”

Coercive control was introduced as a new offence in 2015. Last month, Gwent Police said it had recorded 220 coercive control offences in the region in 2018/19.

Bethan Sayed AM, who hosted the Senedd event, said domestic abuse, in all its forms, was "an epidemic which can have lasting and appallingly damaging impacts on victims and their families".

"Coercive control is something that’s often hidden and can manifest itself in various ways, ways which some might not associate with domestic abuse," she said.

"If someone is subjected to a controlling partner for years, decades even, the mental health impact on a victim and their family can be enormous.

"People become shells of their former selves. They lose their identity, their spirit, their freedom, friends, jobs, everything. Many people feel trapped and others outside the relationship often don’t fully recognise what’s happening."