Catherine Oxenberg says India needed months of deprogramming after NXIVM escape

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There were many brave and extraordinary people, including my mother @catherineoxenberg , who helped to dismantle the NXIVM cult. I want to say thank you to the people who defected before me and saw the wrong that was being done. And, of course, those who chose to fight bravely to bring them down. There are far too many people and groups like this in the world, and the more information we can share, the more we can help others to avoid abusive people and groups like this. If I can help one person, that will be my greatest reward in sharing my story… however scary it has been.  On another note, I am so grateful for all of the love and support I have been getting from those who have been in cults and those who have not. There is a commonality that I’m seeing, and the more stories that are told to expose these injustices, the less shame any of us have to live with. I hope "Seduced" sheds light on more of the truth of what NXIVM really was, versus what they lead thousands of people to believe. As I’ve said, this is much bigger than me and I played my part, just like everybody else has. Together, our ultimate goal is to see justice on October 27th. I believe we will get it. #speakup

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The nightmare of the NXIVM cult has come to an end. NXIVM’s infamous leader, Keith Raniere, was sentenced to 120 years in prison last week for racketeering and sex trafficking. Clare Bronfman, Seagram liquor heiress and Raniere’s financial backer, was sentenced to almost seven years in prison in October. Allison Mack is currently awaiting sentencing on racketeering charges.

In the aftermath of NXIVM’s collapse, many of the victims who were trafficked (and branded in some cases) by Raniere and Mack are coming forward. The most high profile of those women is India Oxenberg, daughter of Dynasty’s star Catherine Oxenberg. India turned over key evidence that helped convict Raniere and was one of twelve women who wrote victim impact statements. India has written a memoir that’s available on Audible about her time in the cult. India’s mother Catherine has also written a memoir about her time spent trying to get India out of NXIVM. Both have been the center of separate docuseries. Catherine participated in HBO’s The Vow with several other former NXIVM members and India recently stared in the STARZ docuseries, Seduced.

Recently India and Catherine spoke with Today’s Hoda Kotb about their harrowing experiences with NXIVM. They said India had to go through months of deprogramming. Here are some excerpts from their interview, which is also available below:

NXIVM (NEHK’-see-uhm) was a shadowy group based in Albany, New York, that appeared on the surface to offer expensive self-improvement workshops but prosecutors said it eventually employed tactics like psychological manipulation, isolating members from family and friends and sexual and mental abuse.

Oxenberg is sharing her agonizing experiences with the group in the Starz docuseries “Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult,” which airs on Sunday night, in which she details abuse at the hands of Raniere and former “Smallville” actor Allison Mack, the latter of whom has pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Oxenberg and her mom, former “Dynasty” star Catherine Oxenberg, spoke extensively on TODAY Friday about the traumatizing experience with the organization led by Raniere.

“We had a deprogrammer mediate, and it took months and months and months,” Catherine Oxenberg said about her daughter’s therapy after leaving the group. “And I will tell you the most painful thing, because I expected this big, open-armed reunion, was her looking at me and saying, ‘I know I love you, but I can’t feel it.'”

“He not only silenced people, he threatened them,” India Oxenberg said about Raniere. “There were many people who were terrified to speak out.

“That’s why I think anybody who leaves a group like this is incredibly brave and deserves that respect because, I’ve said it before, it takes the average woman seven times to leave an abusive relationship. Now imagine that from an entire organization. It’s very difficult.”

[From Today]

I personally have been obsessed with the story behind NXIVM and its ultimate downfall. It would seem that men who prey upon women are getting a very swift comeuppance these last few years and I am celebrating it. I have been watching Seduced and have finished The Vow. The way Raniere was able to manipulate some of the most intelligent people is not shocking. It is our nature as humans to always seek for answers and belonging. Sadly because of this, there will always be those who will exploit this need.

I know Katherine and India are relieved that Keith is behind bars. However, this is just the beginning of the healing process for his victims. Listening to India recount how Raniere separated her from her mother and friends through mental and emotional manipulation then sexually abuse her was heartbreaking. The story behind the branding in the slave/master program DOS was even more infuriating. India saying that Raniere made her and the other women in DOS drop so much weight because he likes young girls is disturbing. It is a shame that Raniere and his co-conspirators disguised something so harmful as a self-help program. I do hope that India continues to speak out and share her story. Perhaps in sharing her story she can help other cult members understand that they’re not alone.

Here’s that interview:


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2 of my beautiful daughters India & Maya. Our family rejoices and rebuilds! Keith Raniere will spend the next 120 years behind bars… “as a measure of his appalling crimes….Today’s sentencing should be a warning to criminals around the world. Regardless of the illegal enterprise and whether the profits are tangible or not, IRS-CI will decode illicit schemes and hold criminals accountable for the pain, suffering and financial abuse of their victims…sexual exploitation of women and children is among the most reprehensible and vile form of abuse.” excerpts from the Dept of Justice, US Attorney’s office EDNY press release. Thank u Judge Garaufis for understanding the danger and depravity of this criminal posing as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. May this be a warning to all predators. your days are numbered…Today the world is a safer place for my girls…and everyone else’s 🙏🏻 #justice #nxvim @starz @seduceddoc #love

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36 Responses to “Catherine Oxenberg says India needed months of deprogramming after NXIVM escape”

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  1. Ariel says:

    I watched the Vow on hbo and then Seduced, the starz doc focusing on India.
    Watching the Vow first was helpful b/c people the mention in passing in Seduced (like Bonnie and Mark) are fully developed in the Vow so you understand their roles in the cult, and their roles, along with Sarah, in getting out, and bringing the cult down.
    As Sarah says in the Vow, they screwed with the wrong girl.

    The Vow also lays bare that the fbi’s involvement was helped along by the star power of Catherine Oxenberg.

    As sad as that is, not sure raniere would be in jail without her media blitz.

    Of course Sarah Edmonson’s information, but also photo of her showing her band in The NY Times, which had to be unbelievably daunting, evoked a visceral reaction which was also important.

    I also think the Seagrams heiresses got off easy under the law. Their money is what kept people silent when they saw the reality of the disturbing cult and got out.
    Those trashy born with money morons sued people into oblivion for daring to leave the cult leader. Their power through their daddy’s money is truly disgusting.

    • Arpeggi says:

      Listen the 1st season of the CBC podcast Uncover that goes deep into how Sarah got in and how she got out while trying to avoid getting sued by the Bronfman/Raniere, it’s really interesting. And bonus, since it’s a podcast, you don’t have to see Raniere’s stupid face and greasy hair

      • Dizzy says:

        Yes, it’s a great podcast. Especially since explains the pyramid scheme that kept it going financially.

  2. MCV says:

    Seduced is so much better than The Vow, I was honestly shooked at the things Raniere said about rape and pedophilia like it’s insane to me how you can listen to that and not get up immediatly and leave.

    Also I feel like everyone involved in The Vow (specially the men) wanted to save their faces but like they still were part of that disgusting mens group.

    • Deanne says:

      His comments about raping babies and how sexual abuse and rape are only abuse if the victim chooses to see them as such, made me want to vomit. The way they all sat there and listened was horrifying. The Vow is basically Mark and Sarah covering their own asses, while glossing over the way they recruited people into the cult and made lots of money while doing so.

    • TaraBest says:

      I was watching Seduced but the warning at the beginning of episode 3 has scared me off. Is the episode really graphic throughout? Or just a scene that’s worth powering through? I really want to finish India’s story but don’t want to see women being assaulted.

      • Ennie says:

        It’s drawings, but not too graphic. The words are sad, what he made them accept to do.

      • Ariel says:

        It is done in soft animation- but it is, nevertheless, horrifying.

      • TaraBest says:

        @ Ennie and Ariel. Thanks for the feedback. I expect it to be difficult to hear/see but wasn’t sure how graphic it would be. It’s hard to hear what these women went through, but I want to finish out India’s story.

    • Meredith says:

      Totally agree about Seduced being better than The Vow. Much better. I learned more in the first episode of Seduced than I did in 9 hours of The Vow. The Vow waited until like the 7th episode to show what a huge POS Keith is and Seduced laid it all out there within minutes.

      Also, The Vow just seemed like Mark and Sarah’s attempts to save their own asses from prosecution and be like, “See, this wasn’t a totally awful thing that I became involved with.”

    • TeamMeg says:

      It’s easy to forget the NXIUM men were victims, too. Emotionally abused and brainwashed.

    • Ashley says:

      MCV thank you for saying that! I thought the Vow and Seduced were completely different. I watched the Vow first and then seduced and the Vow went so soft. It painted all of the people involved like Sarah and Mark as these victims but then you watch Seduced and maybe Mark was laughing uncomfortably but he’s laughing at Raniere’s joke.

      Which how odd with ALL of that footage none of the baby rape and other bizarre stuff was at all included. The Vow kind of annoyed me because I honestly felt like I had no idea what any of those people were talking about for 9 hours and I still can’t understand why they paid so much and spent so much time getting help from this guru. But I admit self help in general is horsesh-t to me, so maybe that’s why they all sounded like they spoke another language. But it truly was like a fluff piece for NXIVM.

      Then you see Seduced and the mysogyby in the teachings, the rape, all of this stuff and how the hell did these people really sit there like “yah this is awesome, let me pay $5000 to hear someone mansplain baby rape”.

      If the Vow comes back with a second season all I can say is do better. Everyone will have to watch seduced just to figure out why Raniere was so bad because after the Vow I did not come away with that idea. It was Seduced that really drove home this guy like to debase and humiliate women. He puts them in cages, and likes to see them beat. And if anything they need to speak to someone other than India because i feel like India didn’t tell the whole truth. I felt like she hid a lot because she doesn’t want to admit it to herself. I didn’t necessarily like her after watching Seduced. She was far too close to Alison Mack to have only done a bare minimum. I feel like if Alison Mack talked we’d find out a lot more about India’s involvement.

      And after Seduced, really shame on the Vow for making Sarah and Mark seem like they were just high ranking members. These people ate this program up and actively conned people into joining. Bonnie has sympathy because she was recruited by Mark and seems to have been a lot smarter. The Vow made Sarah and Mark so innocent and after Seduced I’m wondering how much they glossed over about themselves. Sarah and Mark were making tons of money but Alison Mack was so poor she was begging for money?

  3. GoldenGirl14 says:

    The Vow was good for laying all the background story but it really couldn’t fully explain the extent of the sexual abuse going on because the major players in the Vow weren’t being subjected to it. Sarah got out before that could occur. But it’s good for explaining how much Catherine Oxdenberg was involved in bringing this down, along with Mark, Bonnie and Sarah. Just the details in showing the creation of the case snd how desperate Catherine was to help her daughter and how law enforcement did nothing at first. That was eye opening. And it really explained how the Bronfman sisters used their money and power to basically break ppl who left. Seduced went into full detail about the sexual abuse and manipulation tactics. That was hard to watch. I don’t think I expected that at first because it was truly disturbed and had to pause several times. Both should be watched if you have the chance. I would start with the Vow just to see the players and understand how the organization was run and then Seduced to really see the full extent of the crimes these women were subjected to.

    • Ariel says:

      @GoldenGirl14, i concur. The Vow really laid the foundation, of who and how and why- which was important to my understanding of it. and showed how Catherine got involved due to Bonnie’s warning.
      Seduced is chilling because it is India’s story, and it is the only story we hear fully (and horrifyingly graphically) of a young woman who was sexually, financially and emotionally abused. And it talks about the underaged girls.

      And i read here i think, and i hadn’t put it together, that creepy man’s penchant, and insistence for women being disturbingly rail thin (hair falling out and no period) was because he liked women to look younger, like children.
      That crap keeps me up at night. *shudder*

      • Ashley says:

        Ariel, no where in the documentary do they say he likes women to be thin because he wants them to look like little girls. It’s inferred on this site but not in the documentary. India just says “I haven’t been 106 since I was 12?”. They mention he slept with two underage girls but him being attracted to young girls doesn’t seem like a thing. At least for me. It seems like he liked all women. He was an equal opportunity abuser. The Vow showed his original harem was all older women, and then as he got older he started going for the young ones according to Seduced. Which to be fair as Matthew McConnughwy says it best they get younger, I stay the same. Which is pretty much how all old creepy men think.

        Raniere’s older harem was leaving him (like Bonnie and the one who had his child that they barely mentioned). And then of course his most devoted one died of cancer. She was always so scary skinny I could never tell how far back she was actually sick. I wonder how much more of a fighting chance she would have had if she was healthier and not sleep deprived and malnourished. She was the only one in the original harem who seemed to be scary skinny though. The rest of them looked normal.

        And was it implied that Keith had a sexual relationship with Nancy? And her daughter? Because I know Nancy was his right hand woman but they never mentioned them being intimate. But then I wonder why would she have stayed for so long?

    • NEENA ZEE says:

      Agree… it’s almost like the two shows are companion programming that use different angles to tell a complex story. It reminded me of the two documentaries about Theranos that came out a few years ago. One was much softer and tried to focus on the big picture and the other one got into the nasty personal details that everyone wanted after watching the first one.

      And poor, poor India. I’m sure everyone wanted to rush Seduced and the books into production so everything could come out at once, but I get the impression that she’s reading someone else’s lines. As if she can’t fully process and articulate what happened. There’s a lot of healing left to do.

  4. Noki says:

    I have just started watching the Vow and it reminds me eerily of Going Clear and all those cult docus,they have the same approach and crazy eyes. They really believe what they are spewing.

  5. Jodi says:

    i have also watched both and have been obsessed with following this story as it unfolds (and the horrors of the abuses these women suffered continue to shock me). I’m very interested in the back story of Nancy and Lauren Salzmen in this scenario. another mother / daughter duo involved in all this. like, is Nancy disturbed too? was she also manipulated? she not only pulled her daughter into this but then she got involved as 1st line in DOS etc. what the hell was going on in that family to be pulled into this?

    • Ashley says:

      I want them to focus on Nancy and Lauren too. I have so many questions. It seems like Nancy was the one who knew hypnosis, but according to I forget her name, the one who originally saw her for therapy, that Nancy met Keith and was under his spell. So how did Nancy, the one who studied mine control, get mind contrôles by Keith? Or are both she and Keith so evil they hatched a plan to go into business to mind control others? And then Keith controlled her with sex? And then seduced her daughter? Sarah says she thinks Lauren is having sex with Keith, that he’s been promising her a baby, but it’s never said outright if that’s true. But then in the Vow they mentioned Keith and Lauren hiding in a bedroom when the Federalis arrested Keith. But Keith didn’t like women to know he was sleeping with other women so wouldn’t Nicki and Allison who were also there be like why does Lauren get to share a bed with you? Or were they all just grouping it after that group bloejob?

      So many questions. I know the Vow hinted at another season but I almost don’t want them to because they went so soft the first time around that I feel like hardly any truth came to light. It just made all of them look good. and it’s clear they’re giving the second season to Keith as a platform. Keith doesn’t deserve that.

    • NEENA ZEE says:

      Yes! Nancy gives me the creeps. And the way Sarah described Lauren as the DOS master was disgusting. There’s definitely a bigger story there in how that family got sucked in by KR.

  6. Ennie says:

    I’d really like a movie or something focused more about Daniela Fernandez’s story, what he did to that family is despicable.

  7. Mindy_Dopple says:

    I’ve watched The Vow and was OBSESSED with it. The way he manipulated women and got OFF on manipulating them. He’s EVIL. I’m a little nervous to watch Seduced but everyone here is saying it’s much better than The Vow. I think The Vow did a great job of laying (like others have said) the groundwork for how the organization worked, how they drew people in and how they created this intense “safe space” to be vulnerable. I’m going to start watching Seduced today .

  8. Jules says:

    So crazy and horrible, though I’m glad the truth is coming out. Makes me wonder about Katie Holmes, did she undergo deprogramming or did she just escape? She doesn’t seem interested in helping other cult survivors, given all she has been through. If Cruise is still trying to silence her, then he is still controlling her.

    • Jodi says:

      unfortunately i think a lot of Katie’s silence is because of the custody arrangement with Suri. He basically took Nicole Kidman’s adopted kids away from her and turned them against her so i think Katie did all she could to keep Suri out of Scientology’s hands more than anything else.

    • Jaded says:

      Co$ probably has audit tapes on Katie from her first foray into Scientology that they’ve threatened to reveal should she speak out. She likely had to sign an airtight NDA in order to get any support for Suri too. These people are downright evil.

  9. Doodle says:

    I know sex sells and it’s absolutely terrible what was done. I don’t want to diminish that in any way. I do wish The Vow has spent a bit more time showing some other aspects of the cult though, like the fear experiments. When I heard about that (it may have been through the CBC podcast, I can’t remember anymore now) I was blown away. It’s easier to understand why people tolerate such horrible abuse and don’t get up and leave when Raniere says unacceptable things about raping babies and the like when we see the full picture and I feel like The Vow didn’t really show the full picture.

    • Ashley says:

      The Vow was almost like promo video for it. I came away thinking like ok it’s bad that it’s a cult, but besides Sarah’s brand maybe it actually helped those gullible people find like minded new age weirdos. Clearly they were all happy in it.

      And then Seduced is like ‘so this is what it was really like’ and you get the misogyny SOP program. Why didn’t the Vow mention any of that? It made it look so noble. I was kind of like maybe men do need a program like that so they can learn to do better. Then Seduced shows the ugly side. If Mark was making his wife sleep on the floor, what was Nippy making Sarah do? They never mention. Nippy was a high ranking, even boss of the thing, I imagine he was abusing Sarah pretty harshly. Mark was too soft and even he went far with it.

      After Seduced the Vow pails in comparison. It was a fluff piece. Almost like Mark’s positive PR spin on the whole thing. With none of those negative insider videos Seduced had. Where were those? Mark must have had A LOT of footage.

      And also why did Raniere agree to be recorded so much? His whole life seems to be on video or a microphone.

      When I watched Seduced and I saw Sarah and Mark I hated them. They lured so many people into this thing. They profited off of it and it’s nice that they’re no longer brainwashed but according to the Vow neither of them were in therapy. We didn’t see any of them talk about that. And also how were Nippy and Sarah able to afford that apartment in Vancouver? They were in that cult for years not working in other areas. Where did their income and money come from? Especially in Vancouver which is pretty expensive no?

      After watching Seduced I now have a lot of questions for all of those involved in the Vow. They’re not as clean as they made themselves out to be.

      • Ennie says:

        I think raniere was being filmed and recorded because
        1) as he was sucha mentor and the man with the biggest bestest brain ever, his life and words were recorded for posterity (pulling a Beyonce, maybe?)
        2) everyone was recording everybody. I suspect those people trusted NOONE, and ratted on anyone, whatever it took to look better in the eyes of their guru, just scientology style.

      • Ennie says:

        Every course was VERY expensive. In the thousands of dollars. They worked under commission after they got the orange sash or something, just as a MLM , hihlgher rank, bigger the commision. I suspect that that money was somehow kept and spent around to bite more people into the cult, because the inner circle was either (allegedly) laudering money or spending the Bronfman and other heiresses (Junco, Cafritz), and paying the lower minions just cents. They had free or almost free labor in Albany, the Lebaron girls, the lower ranked ones being “mentored”. The money being made was used to lure more people in. Reallly big fish youngish entrepreneurs in Mexico bit, don’t tell me it was for the good they wanted to do, it was the money being made and the allure of the connections between richer people (who could pay those courses).

  10. Ashley says:

    I’d also like to know what happened to the other Bronfman sister. They were both highly involved but so far only one of them has had a sentence.

    It’s weird because I had only heard of the Bronfman’s because of MIA. I’m kind of curious to know how MIA feels being associated with this family. I for one wouldn’t give any money to Seagrams going forward. Even if they’re like a distant branch of that family, I just wouldn’t want to give any money or business to those people. Clare even had a private island! I’m assuming that’s the private island that was featured in a small section of the Vow (Allison Mack is show on a beach in a Superman towel).

    • Ennie says:

      I read somewhere that she married a man who is either SouthAsian or has SouthAsian heritage, has kids and most probably they continue to support the cult.
      Other important mexican supporters have tone silent, but most probably continue grifting with their practices under new company names.

      I have been obsessed reading about this, there is so much yet.

    • Golly Gee says:

      Sara Bronfman has the good fortune to be living in France which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. Otherwise she too would have likely been charged. She has not been back to the US since her sister was arrested.
      The private island in Fiji was bought because Keith wanted an exile location where he could continue his cult in case he faced criminal prosecution in the US. I’m not sure if there is an extradition treaty with Fiji, but I imagine they felt they could pay off officials there if necessary.
      I think the picture of Allison Mack is actually on Necker (?) Island owned by Richard Branson who claims he has no knowledge of Nxivm, although there are pictures of him partying there with them.

    • Mia says:

      MIA is was married to the son of Clare and Sarah’s elder half brother Edgar Bronfman jr. Edgar Bronfman jr. at one point committed the unforgivable sin of falling in love with and marrying a black woman, named Sherry Brewer. The father Edgar Sr. told him to break it off and that it was an ‘unacceptable union’/ would cause problems not worth the headache. When Sherry offered to convert to Judaism to make things better, Edgar Sr. said ‘that was not the point’. So they went and eloped/had kids. When they eventually divorced, Sr. took Jr. back into his good graces.

      Sr. could at least see what a crock of shit NXIVM was. He was likely tired of his daughters wasting family money on garbage and went to Forbes with the details (of what Clare and Sarah told him). Forbes published it/it enraged Keith so much that the Bronfman sisters had to do ‘penance’ (prove their loyalty/not speak to the blabbing father/give him lots of money for his garbage cult).

  11. Black Betty says:

    It’s weird judging from the interviews I thought Rainiere would at least have some charisma. He didn’t at all.