The Compass project

Economic abuse rarely takes place on its own. Abusers often use economic abuse alongside other forms of domestic abuse, such as physical abuse and psychological abuse.   

Women who access specialist Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) services, such as refuges or domestic abuse advocates, report experiencing high levels of economic abuse.

“I had not consciously realised that economic abuse was taking place… I was so focused on trying to protect myself from physical harm and keep my family safe that I only became aware of the economic abuse and the extent of it once I had left.”

No single organisation or agency has a full picture of the abuse a victim-survivor has experienced. The scale and impact of economic abuse means that agencies across many sectors need to take steps to address it. This goes far beyond statutory agencies and charities, and includes financial services, money and debt advice services and the family court system.    

At present, many services prioritise risk and immediate physical safety, yet do not recognise and respond to the harm of economic abuse.  

What is the Compass project?

The Compass project is a partnership between Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA), Living Without Abuse (Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland), and RISE (Brighton and Hove). 

The project aims to make sure local services work together to better meet the multiple and complex needs of victim-survivors of economic abuse, to: 

  • keep survivors safe 
  • hold abusers accountable  
  • rebuild economic stability after abuse.  

Economic advocacy is an important part of the coordinated community response. It can include supporting victim-survivors to access grants, benefits, debt advice and housing. It can also include supporting victim-survivors with employment, helping them to gain or regain financial stability and build an independent life.  

SEA, in partnership with Living Without Abuse (LWA), RISE, and other local partners, will co-develop a sustainable model of economic advocacy. The model will be embedded within the local coordinated community response to domestic abuse.  

Working in specific local areas, and through our partnerships and networks, we will gain insight into local needs and responses to economic abuse. The project will be strengthened by relationships with local organisations run ‘by-and-for’ minoritised groups.   

SEA, LWA and RISE will pilot the economic advocacy model in the two localities. We will give organisations and services the information and tools to support victim-survivors. We will provide training (with support from Money Advice Plus), and create a framework for more effective joined up working between organisations and services within the coordinated community response.  

We will document the results and learning from the pilot so that the model can be replicated in other areas. Evidence from the project will also be used to influence the policies and practices of organisations that play a role in supporting victim-survivors. This will make sure economic advocacy is resourced sustainably.   

We are delighted to have the support of the Smallwood Trust and the Aviva Foundation who are funding the Compass Project.  

To find out more about the Compass project please contact the Project Coordinator: [email protected]