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India Oxenberg still feels betrayed by Allison Mack, a former high-ranking NXIVM member who recruited her to join the group’s inner sex cult and who kept her as her live-in "slave" for two years, but isn't spending any emotional energy on Keith Raniere, the organization's leader.
“What’s the point for holding onto feelings of betrayal from him?” she said. “He has no remorse so that is meaningless to feel betrayal from somebody who will never ever feel sympathy for me. There's no point.”
Oxenberg, now 29, joined NXIVM when she was just 19 after taking classes which promised to help her with her career and confidence. The group advertised itself as a self-help organization but within it evolved a clandestine, cult-like group involving master-slave relationships, sex, blackmail, and human branding.
Things began to unravel in 2017 after several former members blew the whistle on the secretive inner group, known as DOS, which was effectively a pyramid scheme of "masters" and "slaves," with NXIVM leader Keith Raniere installed as the “grandmaster.” Its members made vows to obey their masters and were forced to turn over monthly collateral — often nude photos or other dirt on themselves or loved ones — to ensure loyalty. Women who became slaves were asked to recruit even more slaves to serve under them. By the end of her time in the group, Oxenberg was both a "slave" of Mack and a "master" of her own group of "slaves."
Oxenberg opens up about her traumatic journey in “Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult,” a four-part docuseries which premiered on Starz on Sunday.
She explains in "Seduced” that Mack approached her at a point in her NXIVM career when she felt desperate and dejected. NXIVM offered paths for advancement within the group, but she hadn’t been promoted in a while and Mack seemingly offered a way to help: by joining DOS.
She said that Mack asked her to create collateral that would be published if Oxenberg was to betray the group. Oxenberg put together personal and damaging information about her family in the format of a media release and got it notarized. In turn, she became both Mack's and Raniere’s “slave” and got branded with his initials.
As a "slave," Oxenberg was forced to ask Mack for permission for everything she did, including eating. She was also put on a strict 500-calorie-a-day diet and had to carry a scale around with her. She could be weighed at any time and punished if she wasn't at her "ideal weight," Oxenberg told Oxygen.com. She was told the diet was to help her grow but, really, it was because Raniere, who slaves were coerced into having sex with, preferred his women to be very thin.
“It was only for Keith's gratification and sexual desires,” Oxenberg told Oxygen.com. “It had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with me and my growth as they put it. It was all perverted and I didn’t know that and it was actually damaging me physically and mentally at the time.”
At Mack's direction, Oxenberg moved in with Mack and lived with her for two years. She would clean and manage her place and, as she told Oxygen.com, was never fully comfortable. She said even when they were doing relaxing things together like watching television, there was always a "layer of trepidation" because Mack was her "superior." Mack would often flirt with her, which caused Oxenberg to feel awkward because she felt pressure to fake attraction or face punishment. She said she lived in constant fear of being punished for not living up to her "slave" duties.
“Everything I learned about her or she learned about me was through this forced, unnatural relationship with her in the master role and me as her slave, like a house servant,” she told Oxygen.com.
Still, she thought of Mack as a pal.
“For a long time I thought she was my friend and I learned the hard way,” she told Oxygen.com.
Oxenberg said she had been through so much programming by the time she entered DOS — she joined the inner group at age 24, five years after signing up for her initial NXIVM classes — that she really believed Mack had her best interests at heart.
“She was the woman that I trusted and admired, that I let guide me and who told me to my face multiple times that everything she did for me, everything she had me do was for my own benefit," she said.
She said she opened herself up to Mack in a way that was comparable to being in a serious relationship.
“Because I thought that was what I was supposed to do and I wanted to do well in the program,” she said.
In the end, though, the DOS exercises were just a sexual perversion of Raniere, Oxenberg said, adding that she's still dealing with the emotional ramifications of being in the group. She's still coping with feelings of betrayal as well.
“I did and I do feel feelings of betrayal from her [Mack],” she told Oxygen.com. “I feel that with her a lot. I think she's a broken person that will have to confront the things that she did.”
Mack pleaded guilty last year to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges and faces a maximum of 40 years in prison. She's is under house arrest as she awaits sentencing.
Oxenberg did note in "Seduced" that she thinks Mack, who has been a working actress since she was a toddler, is also a victim of Raniere, who she believes exploited Mack's desire to perform.
"I think Allison was most comfortable when she had a role," she said.
Since 2017, a handful of high-ranking NXIVM members, have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a range of crimes related to the organization. Raniere was convicted last year of sex-trafficking and racketeering. He's currently behind bars as he awaits sentencing.
“I know that many of the women in DOS were bright and charismatic and wanted to be better people,” Oxenberg told Oxygen.com. “That’s all they wanted. They were good people. It was not a group of deviants, more or less except for the people who are now under house arrest.”
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