As former “Dynasty” star Catherine Oxenberg struggled to free her daughter India from the alleged sex cult NXIVM, she admits there were moments where she lost hope.
“I was convinced the moment that Keith Raniere was arrested that that would wake her up, but that failed,” Oxenberg recently told Closer Weekly of the battle to bring down the organization, promoted as a self-help group. “There were many times I didn’t have hope, and my life was threatened.”
Oxenberg, who recently wrote the memoir “Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult,” said she never wanted the family’s battle to become public but was forced to turn to the media for help as the group’s grip on her now 28-year-old daughter, India, continued to tighten.
“The last thing I wanted to do was expose my daughter publicly. It was a last resort, because I failed at an intervention, and the fear was I could lose her forever,” she said.
Oxenberg knew if she didn’t intervene her daughter could end up in a position like former "Smallville" actress Allison Mack, described as Raniere's second-in-command who is now facing jail time after pleading guilty to racketeering.
“At times I lost hope,” Oxenberg admitted.
But that hope was restored the moment she received a phone call from her lawyers telling her that the FBI planned to move in on the alleged cult—putting an end to a group that turned women into Raniere’s “slaves.”
The 58-year-old was found guilty in June of sex-trafficking and coercing women into sex after a lengthy trial that revealed disturbing details about a man who followers called “Vanguard,” including an alleged sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl and claims he forced his followers to give up damaging collateral against themselves, Fox News reports.
The organization also reportedly had a secret subgroup where women were branded with Raniere’s initials.
Oxenberg told Fox News in August 2018 that Raniere also had strict diet requirements for some of the women, forcing them on “starvation diets” where they were only allowed to eat 500 to 800 calories a day.
Oxenberg and her daughter initially attended a NXIVM class together after hearing rave reviews of the program from a friend. Oxenberg wasn’t that interested in continuing with the group’s programing, but her daughter was intrigued and continued to get more deeply invested.
The actress told E! News that although she “didn’t like the group” it wasn’t until a defector called her in April 2017 urging her to “save India” that she learned the full extent of the group and its control on women.
“I lost my mind, literally,” she recalled. “And I went into hyper-drive from that day forward.”
Oxenberg’s struggle to save her daughter is chronicled in the upcoming premiere of “True Hollywood Story” on E! on Oct. 6.
One of the biggest obstacles was reportedly convincing India that something she believed “was good” was really “so bad,” Oxenberg said.
“She wasn’t the master of her own thoughts. That’s a very frightening thing to be aware of,” she explained.
India is now doing well and has started the recovery process as she's gained distance from the group.
“India is very committed to her healing process — she understands what happened to her and she is empowered,” Oxenberg told Closer Weekly.
Oxenberg has been able to spend more time resuming her normal activities, and has even begun dating a new man who she met after her house burned down in Malibu last year.
“He wasn’t a firefighter, but he was definitely a first responder,” she said. “He reached out through family friends, texted me 48 hours after the fire and said, ‘I have a home in Brentwood that’s empty, and you’re welcome to stay with your family,’ And we fell in love,” she said.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.