Do you know what gaslighting is? And did you know that it’s been made illegal in Ireland this year?

Gaslighting is a form of domestic abuse where a person exerts coercive control over someone, making them doubt themselves and question their reality and often their sanity.

In January 2019, Ireland introduced laws against psychological abuse to protect victims from non-physical acts such as gaslighting.

The change coincided with a topical storyline on TG4 soap opera Ros na Rún, which will reach a dramatic climax in the season finale this Thursday night, 13th June.

Donegal actors Máirín de Buitléir and Brídín Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh are at the heart of the plot.

They play sisters Dee (de Buitléir) and Katy Daly (Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh), who are at odds over long-running issues. The worst though, is that Katy slept with Dee’s fiance Mack. He is now Dee’s husband, and the father of both the sisters’ babies.

Máirín de Buitléir and Brídín Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh

In revenge, Dee has this year launched an attack against Katy. Not directly though, but in cruel and calculating ways that have undermined Katy’s sanity. Nobody knows but the audience.

Dee has left Katy unnerved in her own home by moving things and leaving doors open. She has sneakily interfered with her sister’s career by making her make mistakes, lose her car, appear stressed and incompetent. Dee goes so far as to plant amphetamines in Katy’s coffee to make her really unhinged and make her rely on sleeping tablets to calm down at night.

The confusion gets to such a point that Katy needs therapy.

Brídín tells “Katy starts to see a counsellor because she is scared of herself. She isn’t sleeping, her career is going down the drain and business partners don’t trust her anymore.”

Katy reached her breaking point when Dee wrote in her private journal. Using Katy’s handwriting, Dee writes that Katy wants to hurt her own son. Katy cannot believe that she could think such things about her one-year-old baby.

“I remember that scene. It was so sad that I was crying real tears. You really get into the mindset and feel the vulnerability,” Brídín said.

Image via TG4

Conveying Katy’s terror was a difficult task for Brídín as an actor, she said.

“It was such a tough week but it was the best week. It was so challenging but so rewarding. It was another level of acting for me,” she said.

This week’s season finale takes place over a double special on Dee’s baby’s Christening Day, airing on Tuesday and Thursday. All of Dee’s plotting will reach its worst level and audiences are hoping for justice for poor Katy.

Máirín de Buitléir as Dee Daly on Ros na Run, TG4

As the perpetrator of the abuse, Máirín has a complicated role playing Dee this season. “Dee is coming into a multidimensional character now. I think it’s going to take time for people to understand her decisions,” said Máirín.

The gaslighting has seen Dee turning from golden girl to a vengeful villain.

“Dee’s trust in Katy is totally shattered after what happened with Mack. This is like a power play,” she said.

The gaslighting story has added another perspective to this controlling form of domestic abuse, as it takes place between sisters, not partners.

Máirín said: “I think it’s very important to remember this is a soap opera, and not to put too much weight on any storyline that comes up.

“But it’s very important to get things like this out there so people know that it exists.

“Gaslighting does happen and it’s extremely effective, anything that can shed light on that is good so that when other people speak about it, there is more knowledge.”

The events of recent months will come to a head on Ros na Rún tomorrow (Thursday). Dee is about to do something that will send Katy over the edge, but viewers will have to tune in and see if Dee’s malice will be exposed.

Katy (Brídín Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh) is hysterical when Dee finally tells her the truth. Photo: TG4

For Brídín and Máirín, this intense storyline was a little easier to act out because they are so close in real life.

The Donegal natives have been friends from a young age, which makes their connection so convincing on screen.

Brídín said: “No scene is awkward because we’ve grown up together. When we finished the season finale, you have such pride in what you have created. The entire team pulled together and we have such cool camera shots too.

“It’s all coming to the climax on Thursday, and we can look forward to seeing where Dee’s end game was.”

Don’t miss Ros na Rún on 13th June at 8.30pm.

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, you can find out more on Freephone National Helpline 1800 – 341 900

The Donegal Domestic Violence Service provides free support via a 24hour Helpline , 1800 262677 or 074 91 26267. Services are confidential.