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The practices of Raniere on these women included branding, brainwashing, and sexual abuse. Here's what we know about the NXIVM cult incidents.

Here are all the most disturbing incidents from within the NXIVM cult

Cults are some of the weirder and more disturbing results of people grasping for all-encompassing power. When you have ultimate control over a person’s life you can make them do whatever you want. The women that were enmeshed in the NXIVM cult found out just what that meant when they experienced the horrible practices of the cult’s leader. 

The NXIVM cult also had a secret society known as “The Vow” and DOS (Dominus Obsequious Sororium or Master over Slave Women) founded by Keith Raniere that inducted women into sexual slavery. 

The practices of Raniere on these women included branding, brainwashing, and sexual abuse. In 2018 the leaders of the cult were arrested and by the trial in 2019, the world began to know the terrible details of NXIVM


In 1998, Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman founded NXIVM as a personal development company. The company offered many courses known as “Executive Success Programs” that gave students techniques to better themselves and tap into their hidden strengths. 

The courses were conducted by Raniere and Salzman who were known to the students as Vanguard and Prefect respectively. 

The courses were where Raniere and Salzman brainwashed the students, teaching them neither question their instructions nor trust their own instincts. Those that took many classes and recruited more students progressed through a series of ranks that were distinguished by brightly colored sashes.


Within the cult was the DOS society known as a “secret sisterhood” in which the female members acted as slaves and were required to submit to the wills of their “masters”. The women were recruited by other women high up in the DOS circle such as Salzman and, most notably, the Smallville actress Allison Mack. 

To show who they belong to, the women of DOS were branded with Raniere and Mack’s initials with a cauterizing pen. The women were taken to the houses of cult members such as Salzman and Mack and there Raniere would have sex with them. Raniere believed that he had “super-sperm” that could connect and control all the women he had sex with. 

Women that displeased Raniere were ostracized from the cult until they redeemed themselves. Punishments were often cruel for anyone who broke the rules. Women were imprisoned for months, forced to hold painful poses, made to take cold showers or stand barefoot in the snow, and whipped on their bare behinds. 

The women in DOS were also subjected to Raniere’s ideas that incest and pedophilia were acceptable practices. Raniere would also humiliate the women and put them on forced diets if he deemed them too “fat”. All women were also required to turn in compromising items such a sex tape or nude photos as collateral in case they ever went against the cult. 


The NXIVM cult continued until 2018 when Raniere, Salzman, and Mack were arrested after several former members were investigated by the media. It was uncovered that many high-profile individuals were participants in the cult including doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and journalists. 

In 2019, Salzman and Mack pleaded guilty to racketeering. Raniere pleaded not guilty to his crimes but was later convicted in June 2019 of racketeering and sex trafficking. A lawsuit was filed in January 2020 that accused Raniere and some of the higher up associates of the NXIVM cult of conducting illegal psychological experiments on the members of the company.

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