If you have never heard of NXIVM you are not alone. NXIVM brands itself as a multi-level marketing organization offering personal and professional development seminars for women. Like many similar organizations, NXIVM goes about its work out of the public eye, that is until stories emerged claiming that NXIVM is a cult that recruits women as sex slaves. The alleged cult is accused of branding and blackmailing its members to ensure loyalty and keep its activities secret.
NXIVM was founded in Albany County, New York, in 1998 by Keith Raniere, and according to the New York Times, around 16,000 women have attended its courses. According to its website, NXIVM courses are designed to bring about greater self-fulfillment by eliminating psychological and emotional barriers. Most NXIVM clients simply take their course and return to normal life, but the group's former publicist has revealed that a small number of women are drawn deeper into NXIVM to become followers of Keith Raniere, who is known within the group as "Vanguard."
The cult side of NXIVM's activity is known as DOS, which is believed to stand for "dominus obsequious sororium," a Latin expression meaning "master over the slave women." According to the Sun, Frank Parlato, NXIVM's former publicist has told them that Hollywood actor, Allison Mack, who starred in Smallville, is responsible for recruiting around 25 women into the NXIVM cult. Parlato claims that women are forcibly branded with the initials of Ms. Mack or Keith Raniere.
Mack has allegedly been brainwashed and is responsible for recruiting women to act as Raniere's sex slaves. In addition to forcibly branding women, Rolling Stone reports that NXIVM members are subjected to a range of other controlling behaviors.
Former NXIVM member Sarah Edmonson claims that female cult members are forced to follow brutally low-calorie starvation diets and regularly asked to provide naked photos, financial information, and criminal confessions as "collateral" to prevent them from defecting.
Edmonson alleges that her "master" told the initiates to strip, made them hold each other down, and then forcibly branded each woman on her lower hip with a cauterizing device.
As reported by People magazine, former Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg has spoken out against NXIVM's activities. Oxenberg's is concerned about her 26-year-old daughter India's involvement with NXIVM. Oxenberg spoke out on Megan Kelly's show to raise awareness of what NXIVM is doing and to try to force the authorities to act on reports they have had about branding and blackmail.Oxenburg claims that former NXIVM members have gone to the police about the branding claims and the group's other activities. She says that no action has been taken against NXIVM because the authorities believe members have consented to be branded and are NXIVM members voluntarily.
[Featured Image by Lee Roth/Star Max/AP Images]