Our story

SEA was founded in 2017 by Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, now our CEO, following her 2016 Churchill Fellowship to the US and Australia to learn about best practice in responding to financial abuse. The innovative projects that she witnessed made her determined to ensure that women in the UK received the same response.  

SEA’s highlights

It all starts

The first meeting of 4 founding trustees takes place to begin to set out the future direction for the organisation.

January 2017

May 2017

Spreading the word

Following media coverage on Women’s Hour, the first members of the ‘Experts by Experience’ group get in touch.

Becoming official

Registration with the Charity Commission means we are legally a UK charity.

June 2017

July 2017

Work begins

Our founding project – the Economic Justice Project – launches, funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Launch in Parliament

A woman giving a speech from a lectern

The official launch of SEA in Parliament is attended by supporters, volunteers and well-wishers, with Victoria Atkins MP, then Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, speaking in support of our work.

December 2017

December 2017

Research findings

A screenshot of BBC Breakfast news featuring Nicola Sharp-Jeffs

Our first report, Into Plain Sight, publishes to coincide with the charity’s launch and is covered on BBC Breakfast, the Today Programme and in the Guardian. The report finds that six in ten successful prosecutions for controlling or coercive behaviour include economic abuse.

Bringing survivors together

The first meeting of the Experts by Experience group, which now has more than 100 members, is attended by 18 women with lived experience of economic abuse.

March 2017

May 2018

Survivors speak out

The Experts by Experience take part in a Home Office roundtable discussion – organised and facilitated by SEA – as part of the consultation on the Domestic Abuse Bill to ensure survivors’ voices are at the heart of it. This report captures their contribution.

Working in partnership

DEAP - Domestic and Economic Abuse Project

SEA and Money Advice Plus receive funding from the Tampon Tax to work in partnership on the Domestic and Economic Abuse Project (DEAP) to build the capacity of organisations working with victim-survivors.

September 2018

December 2018

Banking on change

A view of a conference taking place, a man is talking and people are sitting in seats listening

Our inaugural conference on banking takes place at Salesforce Tower in London, with the aim of helping banks and financial institutions implement the Financial Abuse Code of Practice developed by UK Finance with charities, including SEA.

Defined in law

The Government launches its draft Domestic Abuse Bill including economic abuse in the statutory definition of domestic abuse. This follows our work to brief civil servants and Ministers.

January 2019

April 2019

Surviving and Thriving

Our first strategy launches, setting out our three-year plans to create change in four ways: awareness-raising and education, professional responses, systems change and policy influencing.

First award nomination

SEA is shortlisted in the 2019 Charity Awards in the Campaigning and Advocacy category for our policy work to get economic abuse recognised in the statutory definition of domestic abuse in the Domestic Abuse Bill.

May 2019

June 2019

First award win

The Domestic and Economic Abuse Project with Money Advice Plus wins an award for Best Partnership at the Institute of Money Advisers Awards.

Best practice in banking

Lloyd’s Banking Group launches its Domestic and Financial Abuse team, trained by SEA to fully understand the complexities that customers experiencing economic abuse face.

August 2019

October 2019

Proposing a change to the law

SEA proposes an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill to extend the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour to post-separation abuse.

Financial Support Line

SEA launches the Financial Support Line and Casework Service for victim-survivors of domestic abuse, together with Money Advice Plus.

July 2020

October 2020

A flurry of honours

Nicola Sharp-Jeffs holding her OBE

Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, SEA’s founder and CEO, is awarded an OBE for services to victims of domestic and economic abuse. The news comes a week after we win two Third Sector Awards – one for best partnership with Money Advice Plus and Nicola for Rising CEO.

Economic Abuse Evidence Form

With funding from the Money and Pensions Service, SEA, together with Money Advice Plus, launches the Economic Abuse Evidence Form – a single tool that a money or debt adviser can use as evidence that a client has experienced economic abuse.

January 2021

February 2021

Economic abuse on Corrie

Two characters from Coronation street

SEA advises the writers of Coronation Street on the economic abuse storyline, reaching five million viewers.

Criminalising post-separation abuse

The government announces that it will support SEA’s amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill which leads to post-separation abuse becoming a criminal offence.

March 2021

April 2021

The Cost of Covid-19

SEA publishes The Cost of Covid-19 – a report into the experiences of victim-survivors facing economic abuse by a current or former partner during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rising leader

Nicola on stage receiving an award at the 2021 Charity Times Awards

SEA founder and CEO Nicola Sharp-Jeffs is named Charity Times’ Rising Leader of the Year.

September 2021

December 2021

Financial Abuse Code

UK Finance publishes the 2021 Financial Abuse Code, reflecting economic abuse as a recognised form of domestic abuse. SEA CEO Nicola Sharp-Jeffs wrote the foreword.

Making Waves

Our strategy - making waves

SEA launches its new three-year strategy for 2022-25, Making Waves, outlining plans to focus on improving policy and responses to economic abuse in the financial services and women’s sectors.

April 2022

April 2022

A funding boost

SEA and partners Money Advice Plus are awarded a funding boost of £1.7m from the National Lottery Community Fund to expand the scope of the Financial Support Line and Casework Service and the Economic Abuse Evidence Form.

Understanding and Responding to Economic Abuse

SEA’s founder and CEO Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs published a new book, ‘Understanding and Responding to Economic Abuse’.

The book explores the many ways abusers control victims through economic resources and highlights the urgent need to involve ‘non-traditional’ stakeholders such as money/debt advice organisations and the financial services sector.

June 2022

June 2022

SEA celebrates 5th birthday!

Sea's 5th Birthday

We celebrated SEA’s 5th birthday by looking back at some of our greatest achievements to date. We also took this opportunity to look ahead to our next challenges and SEA’s latest strategy ‘Making Waves’.

New HSBC campaign launches nationwide

We shared our knowledge of economic abuse to support a new nationwide awareness raising campaign from HSBC. Members of the SEA team shared their sightings of the campaign across the length of the UK.

June 2022

November 2022

‘Economic abuse: A global perspective’ published

Image of a globe

Two years in the making, this reasearch project aims to establish what we know globally about economic abuse in the context of intimate partner violence.

‘Economic abuse: A global perspective’ brings together evidence and learning from a variety of sources from all over the world to paint a global picture of what we know about this form of abuse. The study also highlights gaps in knowledge and practice that urgently need to be filled to ensure that all victim-survivors can access economic safety and justice.

UK Finance and Surviving Economic Abuse join to create new information for consumers

SEA collaborated with UK Finance to update their ‘It’s Your Money’ leaflet. This  clear and helpful resource was shared with all the signatories of UK Finance’s Financial Abuse Code.

December 2022

January 2023

Public sector economic abuse toolkit launches

SEA and Money Advice Plus provided input on a new economic abuse toolkit developed by the Cabinet Office. The toolkit aims to support public sector bodies that are recovering debt by helping staff understand, identify and help those experiencing economic abuse or living with its effects.

Emergency flee fund pilot announced

SEA supported Women’s Aid’s successful call for emergency funding for victim-survivors of domestic abuse to flee the abuser. The Flee Fund has since been expanded to include additional funding to help victim-survivors rebuild their lives after abuse.  

March 2023

June 2023

New child maintenance powers announced

Following extensive influencing work by SEA and Gingerbread, the Child Support (Domestic Abuse) Act makes it easier for victim-survivors to be safely paid the child support they are owed by moving onto Collect and Pay without having to get agreement from the abuser or prove they won’t make payments. 

Legal aid means test review

The government increased access to legal aid for victim-survivors of economic abuse by excluding those in receipt of Universal Credit and exempting inaccessible capital, like joint homes, from the means-test following SEA’s work on the Legal Aid Means Test Review. 

June 2023

June 2023

Starling Bank’s new ‘Hide References’ feature launched

SEA worked with Starling Bank to develop their new ‘Hide References’ feature after raising victim-survivor Rebecca’s story with the bank. This new feature enables victim-survivors to hide upsetting or abusive messages in payment references.  

Seen yet sidelined is launched

Teal research report cover. Text: Seen yet sidelined. How economic abuse is reflected and responded to within successful prosecutions of the Controlling or Coercive Behaviour Offence. Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, Kathryn Royal and Keith Gibson. September 2023

SEA launches ‘Seen yet sidelined’, a research report revealing that every 20 minutes an economic abuse victim-survivor reports to the police yet economic abuse continues to be sidelined within the criminal justice system. The research was covered by The Observer, ITV News and BBC Woman’s Hour 

September 2023

November 2023

Economic Abuse Awareness Day

For Economic Abuse Awareness Day, SEA launched its new research finding that one in five women in the UK have experienced economic abuse by a current or former partner in the past 12 months.