Abuse of weakness


An abuse of weakness is the fraudulent abuse of a vulnerable person’s situation of weakness.

In an abuse one passes from a normal situation, even if it is excessive, to actions questionable or even prejudicial to others.

In France the law punishes abuses of weakness under certain conditions (see the legislative framework), but it is difficult to demonstrate or prove that adults who gave apparently free consent, were in fact, in a vulnerable situation.

What are the conditions determining an infringement of the law?

  • the vulnerability of the victim, by age, a health problem or as a result of a mental manipulation
  • awareness of this vulnerability by the accused person (intentional offense)
  • that the act harms the victim in some way

To speak of abuse of weakness is to question the notions of consent, submission and freedom.