How did NXIVM choose the recruits for their cult’? ‘The Vow’ reveals all
Since the arrests of Keith Raniere, Allison Mack, and other high-profile NXIVM leaders, all eyes have been on the NXIVM cult and how the organization worked. Especially after the multi-level marketing organization was revealed to have a secret sex cult, many were wondering how NXIVM recruited members to the main organization, and the sex cult.
HBO has been investigating the cult through their new docuseries The Vow. Highlighting the victims of NXIVM and their stories, The Vow gives outsiders a close look at the inner workings of NXIVM and its cult. Ahead of episode four, HBO has released a clip taking a look specifically at the recruitment process for NXIVM.
Finally, we understand why every NXIVM member we know about seems like a model. Turns out, that’s the exact type of person NXIVM set out to recruit for their cult. As The Vow explains: NXIVM went after the “beautiful people.”
Define beautiful people
While the victims are left asking themselves “Why did I fall for this?”, NXIVM nailed its strategy for recruitment. NXIVM was looking for successful, rich, beautiful; people who had their life together were NXIVM’s perfect target.
As the clip from The Vow shows, Catherine Oxenberg, whose daughter India climbed the ranks in NXIVM’s sex cult, was confused how her daughter fell into this. “I’m trying to find a reason why. I thought she was the happiest, most-evolved, well-adjusted child imaginable.” Oxenberg stresses.
But fellow NXIVM survivor Bonnie Piesse tells Oxenberg that’s the exact point. “They go for the people who are successful, easy people to get along with, capable of doing things. That’s who they want to run their cult, especially if you’re trying to get credibility.”
Take Allison Mack for example. Recruited in 2010, Mack was at the peak of her fame thanks to Smallville. But Smallville was getting ready to end, and Mack needed her next jumping point. Enter NXIVM, where Mack was offered the chance to rise the ranks and help run the organization.
It’s not just beneficial for the recruit though. By recruiting these successful people, NXIVM comes across as an organization that’s pure, strong, and has numerous success stories. Through these strong recruits, NXIVM then has more credentials to recruit more people for its cult.
Breaking people down
While NXIVM on the surface was meant to be a program to help people become more successful, it was meant for people who were already successful. The classes taught through NXIVM were meant to help business people get in touch with their spiritual side and become stronger.
But those women who got involved with the sex cult in NXIVM had a different experience. As slaves, these women were beaten, branded, blackmailed, and treated like dirt. People assume those who join a cult are weak and looking for a place in the world, but NXIVM worked the other way around.
As Bonnie Piesse explains, “People keep trying to fucking tell me it’s because you’re deficient and you’re weird, and you’re damaged, and you’re vulnerable. No, they go for the people who are successful.” That’s the key to NXIVM’s success as a cult.
How to free yourself
While India Oxenberg left after NXIVM leader Keith Raniere’s arrest, her mother and Bonnie Piesse got out themselves. When they realized the organization wasn’t actually going to build them into better leaders, they left the organization.
As The Vow continues to air on HBO, we continue to learn more about the horrifying reality these women lived through as members of the NXIVM cult. If you want to read about how Keith Raniere developed NXIVM in the first place, you can do so here.