Learn about India Oxenberg’s time in the NXIVM cult from her directly
While viewers may have missed India Oxenberg’s full story in The Vow, she’s setting the record straight with Starz’s newest docuseries Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult. Unlike the HBO show, which explored the consequences of NXIVM, the Starz limited series focuses on the victims’ stories and explains how NXIVM qualifies as a cult.
Prior to Seduced, Oxenberg stayed relatively quiet about her time in NXIVM and rarely made public appearances. However, she finally decided to speak up in Seduced & other media outlets in recent weeks to finally share her experience during her time in NXIVM & the exclusive DOS group.
Here’s a look into the first episode of Seduced and how Oxenberg was first lured into the NXIVM sex cult.
How she got hooked
Oxenberg first joined NXIVM with her mother, Catherine Oxenberg. In the docuseries, India explains she hadn’t been spending as much time with her mom after she remarried. The two had gone to an ESP meeting and India was impressed with NIXVM’s reputation. After she heard about a five-day intensive, India encouraged her mother to go with her as a way to spend time together.
At the first meeting, NXIVM coaches separated India from her mom. Cult experts featured in Seduced believe this move was a manipulative tactic. By separating India from her mother, it made them more vulnerable. India recalled how she was impressed, but was willing to walk away after the intensive, but her family was enthusiastic about NXIVM, so she continued attending classes.
While she originally joined NXIVM as a way to learn how to grow her budding catering business, she explains in Seduced she actually stayed in NXIVM because she appreciated the friendships she cultivated at the ESP meetings.
What especially drew India into NXIVM was JNess, a women-only group that disguised itself as being a feminist movement. Soon enough, India wanted to become a coach and she was officially hooked.
Intimate & tiring Vanguard Week
Vanguard Week, which celebrated Keith Raniere’s birthday, was when India Oxenberg officially met Keith Raniere for the first time. Just like the ESP meetings & JNess, Vanguard Week was another way to indoctrinate people into NXIVM and manipulate members into staying in the group.
In Seduced, cult experts even describe how the tiring activities & strangely intimate introductions to Raniere were meant to desensitize members, possibly to groom and lure members to join DOS. While it took five years before India joined DOS, Vanguard Week was just one out of many events that dug India deeper into the cult.
Lured into DOS
DOS is possibly the most controversial aspect of NXIVM. From the Latin phrase, “Dominus Obsequious Sororium”, DOS translates to “Master over Slave Women”. Once recruited into DOS, women were branded with a cauterizing pen and sex trafficked to Keith Raniere. To stay in DOS, these women had to give “collateral” as a sort of blackmail, making members also stay silent about the sexual abuse.
India told Elle her biggest regret was recruiting people into DOS. It was essentially a pyramid scheme where women would recruit other women into DOS, forming a harem for Raniere. Using language like “master” & “slave”, DOS victims were groomed to do whatever their “master” wished. If they didn’t complete a task, victims have said there were consequences, like being coerced into a starvation diet.
How India finally escaped
Oxenberg was actually one of the last members of NXIVM to finally leave. She left in the summer of 2018 and escaped to her mother’s house in Malibu. Not long afterwards, Oxenberg discovered the true meaning of her branding, which caused her to question her entire time in NXIVM. While Oxenberg was led to believe the brand was a “symbol of the elements”, she realized it was actually Keith’s initials.
This discovery led Oxenberg to start helping the FBI with their investigation into NXIVM. She gave them key information, which significantly helped prosecutors during Raniere’s criminal trial. In the end, while Raniere was the only NXIVM leader to plead not guilty. In June 2019, Raniere was convicted of multiple charges, including sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a child, and more, according to Elle.
Raniere’s sentencing trial is set for October 27th, where he could face a life sentence. Oxenberg told The Daily Beast she believes he deserves a life sentence because she doesn’t think Raniere is capable of changing, citing how he continues to play “mob boss from prison”. If he was able to get out of prison, Oxenberg is afraid Raniere will have the chance to manipulate women again because “he’s someone who has one playbook”.
Why India told her story in Seduced
A major storyline in The Vow saw Catherine Oxenberg trying to help India escape NXIVM. Partially filmed in 2018, viewers saw top-ranking NXIVM officials explain the cult while also watching their real-time attempt to expose DOS. While Catherine Oxenberg was in both The Vow & Seduced, India told The Daily Beast she felt more comfortable sharing her story in Seduced after she spoke with the creators of the show.
India explained how she felt Seduced was a “safe place” to tell her story because she felt producers Cecilia Peck & Inbal Lessner understood the NXIVM saga was “complicated”. India also appreciated how seduced was being done by a “women’s team” telling a story “from a woman’s perspective” while also being a show meant to be “educational, helpful, and to explain coercion”.
India told The Daily Beast she believed The Vow was more of a “wider strokes” look into NXIVM, while Seduced “goes deeper into what it felt like internally to be there”. India believes it’s a “more human” approach to explain the “experience” rather than the bullet-point details of the cult.