India Oxenberg is finally ready to open up about her debilitating descent into NXIVM.
The daughter of actress Catherine Oxenberg sat down with People to detail her experience with the alleged sex cult, including the harrowing night in January 2016 where she was branded by other members.
That unforgettable ordeal came after five years of India being indoctrinated into NXIVM, which presented itself as a self-help organization. She had initially been recruited to join the group by founder Keith Raniere’s right-hand woman, former Smallville star Allison Mack, and was now being initiated into NXIVM’s secret master-slave sorority, known as DOS.
Before the ceremony, India was told by other members to remove her clothes before, along with several other women, walking into a room that had a table. She recalled:
“I had two women holding my hands and my feet so I wouldn’t convulse.”
The now-29-year-old was then held down and branded with the initials of Raniere — an experience burned into her memory as well as her flesh. She added:
“I remember the smell — of flesh. I remember crying but not with pain. There was no choice to say no.”
By that point, India had lost her ability to think clearly and independently; meaning, she and the other women were actually brainwashed into thinking they had chosen to get the brand, which they were told was a “symbol of the elements.” She explained:
“The circumstances pushed us to our limits, to the point where you would think you were making the choice to get branded.”
India also opened up about how she was lured, brainwashed, blackmailed into joining DOS, telling the outlet:
“People ask how could this happen but it doesn’t happen right away. It’s a slow drip of indoctrination and grooming.”
That grooming continued after she was initiated into the secret sorority, where Mack would eventually become her “master.” After joining DOS, India said she was almost immediately ordered to have sex with the group’s 60-year-old leader, sharing:
“One of my first commands was to seduce Keith. I was told it was an assignment to make me feel less vulnerable.”
Fortunately, India’s mother didn’t give up in the fight to save her daughter. The Dynasty actress went public with her efforts in 2017, alerting the media about Raniere and the reprehensible organization he built.
Now, after two years of intensive therapy and deprograming, India can’t thank her mother enough. She said:
“I can’t describe in words how grateful I am for that. Because the truth is, I didn’t see a future for myself when I was there. I was really kind of committed to being there forever, indefinitely… I don’t think anybody thinks that they could lose their life, but still be here. But the reality is that my life was hijacked by this group. And the fact that I get a second chance to actually just have my life and be like a normal 29-year-old — and not have everything be lost, and be one of these women that is going to spend the rest of their life either in jail or under house arrest, or with the mark of Keith Raniere — is remarkable to me that I get to have this. And that’s because of what she did.”
As you may know, Raniere and Mack were arrested in 2018 as part of a federal case against the founder and other high ranking members of the group. Raniere was found guilty of sex trafficking, racketeering, and possession of child pornography. His sentencing is now scheduled for October 27, and he could face life in prison.
Mack, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges in April 2019. She tearfully told the judge at the time:
“I was lost.”
She still awaits sentencing.
India, who once shared an apartment with Mack, said of the former actress:
“She had a lot of power and control over me and I was scared of her but she can’t hurt me anymore. I think in a lot of ways she saw herself as a kind of Joan of Arc character, willing to fall on a sword for Keith.”
This is only the tip of the iceberg, of course. Catherine’s daughter is sharing her story in much more detail in the upcoming STARZ four-part docuseries, Seduced: Inside the Nxivm Cult, which starts airing October 18 at 9 p.m.
As for why she’s deciding to open up so publicly, India said:
“I would have been happy to not say anything, but I knew too much about what happened and I had a moral obligation to make sure it didn’t happen to anyone else.”
Hopefully India’s story will prevent similar ones from happening to others. See the trailer for the upcoming docuseries, in which she’ll open up even more (below):
[Image via Starz/YouTube.]