Top Boy’s Curtis is a reminder of the many faces of domestic abuse
The new addition to Top Boy showed that domestic abuse needn’t mean a raised hand or even a raised voice
Trigger warning: This post discusses domestic abuse
Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from Top Boy Season 3 and Season 4
Fans of Top Boy who are yet to watch the latest season may want to stop reading now. Although if you’ve already watched the series, you’ll know that the audience is introduced to a new character, Curtis, who we meet via Jaq’s sister, Lauryn. Lauryn was last seen at the end of Season 3, beaten up by her sister for feeding information to a rival gang member. Enraged by her sister’s reckless behaviour, Jaq tells Lauryn to leave and she seemingly flees to Liverpool where she meets Curtis.
Lauryn is reintroduced to us now pregnant. And Curtis is the father. However, from the outset, it’s clear that Lauryn is a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of the father of her unborn child and his sister Vee.
What makes this storyline so powerful is that we never see Curtis raise a hand to Lauryn, let alone raise his voice (his sister, Vee, appears more overtly abusive than Curtis does). It’s to the contrary of how domestic abuse is typically perceived — with violence and verbal aggression from the abuser where other family members are usually none the wiser. Yet Curtis’ and Lauryn’s relationship has all the hallmarks of domestic abuse.
Firstly, Lauryn is pregnant. We don’t see their relationship beforehand but pregnancy is a common tool for domestic abuse. A partner (of either gender) who has sought to or contemplated leaving an abusive partner will often find pregnancy weaponised against them as a form of control and abuse. It’s presented as a rose-tinted window to a forced future together where any thought of leaving the relationship becomes less viable.
The pregnancy provides the ultimate argument for why the victim shouldn’t and can’t entertain leaving. The unborn child is used to suppress any doubts or attempts to leave and for pregnant mothers, hormones are used to gaslight and dismiss the victim as being overly emotional and unable to think straight. How many times…