Did Keith Raniere plot all abuse in NXIVM? Look at their leadership
Keith Raniere, leader of a sex cult disguised as a “self-improvement” company called NXIVM, was sentenced on October 27th, 2020. The self-proclaimed “Vanguard” was found guilty on seven charges including sex trafficking, racketeering, and forced labor conspiracy. Raniere was ultimately sentenced to 120 years in prison.
Although Keith Raniere may have been the main puppeteer, a few of his puppets were convicted as well. The list includes Allison Mack, an actress who starred in The CW show Smallville, Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram company, NXIVM’S bookkeeper Kathy Russel, and NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman and her daughter, Lauren Salzman.
Here a few examples of the horrific abuse that Keith Raniere inflicted onto people:
DOS, an acronym for the Latin phrase “Dominus Obsequious Soroium”, roughly translated to “master over slave”, was an exclusive secret society within NXIVM. Via former DOS member India Oxenberg, DOS was disguised as a sisterhood to empower women – but it turned out to be a ploy for Raniere to enslave women for his own sexual desires.
In order to be accepted into DOS, each woman needed to give what they called “collateral”, which was essentially blackmail. The collateral included anything from nude photos to crime confessions.
Within DOS, there were “masters” and “slaves”. The slave would be forced to do whatever the master asked them to do. They had to ask their master permission for every calorie they wanted to eat. When a master would text their slave “?”, the slave would have to reply “Ready M” within sixty seconds or they would be punished.
The women were told they’d receive a small tattoo as part of the initiation into DOS. Instead, they were instructed to get naked and then they were painfully branded without anesthesia via a cauterizing pen.
According to The New York Times, the members were told that the symbol represented the four elements, the seven chakras, or a horizontal bar with the Greek letters alpha and mu. What it really was was the initials of Keith Raniere and Allison Mack. Mack admitted to coming up with the idea to brand the members of DOS.
India Oxenberg, daughter to Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg, was Allison Mack’s “slave” in DOS. As the HBO docuseries The Vow shows, Catherine Oxenberg did everything she could to get her daughter India to “wake up” and leave the cult. However, it wasn’t until Keith Raniere & Allison Mack were arrested in 2018 that India started to see the truth.
In an interview with ABC News, India said, “What I thought I was learning was self-help and personal growth. What I was learning was the opposite. It was inhumane.”
India and her mother Catherine went to their first NXIVM meeting together. The members almost immediately tried to break their connection. India told ABC News, “That was strategic, and we were unaware of why they were doing that at the time, but it’s actually something that I learned later on called parental alienation.”
When ABC News asked when her relationship with Keith Rainere became sexual, India responded, “The relationship became sexual when I was commanded to do a seduction assignment. That was the beginning of continual sexual abuse, and I didn’t see it as that at the time.” She said she would now describe that sexual relationship as rape because she had given collateral, turning her consent into coercion.
India Oxenberg was one of fifteen victims to testify against Keith Raniere at his sentencing.
The first victim to testify against Keith Raniere on October 27th was a woman named Camila. Camila was sexually abused by Raniere when she was fifteen. Raniere was also sleeping with her older sisters, sometimes simultaneously.
Keith Raniere pitted Camila’s family against each other. Camila’s mother, brother, and one of her sisters were in the audience, but the oldest sister Marianna and their father are still devout followers of Raniere and didn’t show. Marianna had a son with Raniere and was living with him when he was arrested in Mexico. Their father wrote a letter to the judge to speak in support of Raniere, which the judge called a “disgrace”.
Camila met Keith Raniere when she was thirteen. She avoided getting close to him when he made her uncomfortable, which caused her to be scolded by adults for “being rude”. According to The New York Times, he told her to keep their relationship a secret and took naked photos of her (which was child pornography). He directed her to maintain a weight of 100 pounds or less. She was eventually recruited into DOS and branded.
As reported by Courthouse News, Camila said “It felt like I would never be free. . . there was no way out.”
Daniela, Camila’s sister, was the one who urged Camila to leave. According to The New York Times, Daniela’s sexual relationship with Keith Raniere began soon after her 18th birthday. She became pregnant and another one of Raniere’s girlfriends arranged an abortion. Prosecutors said Raniere had said the abortion was a good opportunity for Daniela to lose weight.
After Daniela confessed her feelings for someone else to Raniere, she was confined to a room for two years for her “ethical breach”, according to Courthouse News. As reported by The New York Times, Daniela was told if she left without permission, she would be cut off from her family. She was forced to sleep on a foam pad on the floor and went months without human contact.
We hope these victims can heal from the horrid abuse inflicted by Keith Raniere. To learn more about the horrors of NXIVM, you can watch The Vow on HBO and Seduced (told from India’s perspective) on Starz.