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Still Learning

I was first recruited into ESP through an introduction meeting held Santa Monica, CA. After that I took a five day intensive in Los Angeles in 2011. 

I was 19 years old. 

After several more intensives including a series of Jness courses, or tracks, I was pressured into beginning to forgo employment opportunities in order to devote most of my time to becoming a coach.  This happened very early on and continued for 7 years.  After that, I was pressured into committing to the stripe path and, as they put it, “make my growth priority.” 

I was also pressured to attend every course given and make my outside relationships secondary, unless they were related to enrollment. This was in order to devote all of my time to ESP and Rainbow Cultural Garden, NXIVM’s children’s program.  

By mid 2016, I was living in Albany, NY, working in various NXIVM “companies” and spending all of my savings on ESP programs. I was almost never compensated for any of my work.  By 2016, I had spent a majority of my money and I was in debt to NXIVM for courses. 

Because I wasn’t making any money, I stopped paying in cash and began exchanging my time for courses I was obligated to take.  

These so-called “exchanges” were their way to keep you taking more and more curriculum, and a never ending debt ultimately having to put all of your time into working for them. The constant pressure and the way they taught us, caused me to believe my situation was entirely my fault and that I needed these programs, or I would not grow or improve.  

This was reinforced through “EMs,” or “explorations of meaning,” which were one-on-one sessions with more advanced participants, that were supposedly intended to help us more deeply explore our emotions and experiences to identify the so-called “issues” we then had to work on. Personal failure, pushing against discomfort, self-doubt and self-blame were very common themes and they really damaged my confidence and self-esteem. I remember feeling constantly unable to work in the “outside world” and increasingly more dependent on ESP and the community to support me. 

I was at a total loss personally and professionally and felt vulnerable and desperate in my life. I felt fragile and looked to these people to feel loved and affirmed. 

In 2016, Allison Mack recruited me into DOS.  

I left Albany in February 2018 and stayed in Allison’s apartment in Brooklyn until after Allison and Keith had been arrested.

While in Albany and during my time as a NXIVM and DOS member these are some of the ways I was affected:

I was put on a restricted calorie diet for over a year and a half that required me to drastically reduce my calorie intake, far below what is required to stay healthy. 500 calories or less.  I was permitted only limited sleep, it was considered virtuous to self inflict pain and obtain. A constant mix of praise and verbal abuse became my normal life and I felt like I deserved it. I had signed up for this and I believed I was being told I was doing what was necessary to grow. 

I was instructed to be 106 pounds when I am naturally 125 pounds and 5’5″. I had to lose 19 pounds in one year on this restricted diet given to me by Keith and Allison or I would receive different consequences, one of many was to not leave Albany for 30 days and turned into three months, before even officially relocating. 

I made little to no money the entire seven years that I was in NXIVM and I spent over $80 grand on their curriculums and related expenses.

I was branded with a cauterizing pen. This extremely painful procedure lasted for over 30 minutes and took months to heal. I was lied to about what the symbol represented and was instructed to Ask my master to brand me with what I believed was a symbol of the elements, not Keith Raniere’s Monogram. 

I experienced emotional humiliation from people who said were my friends, and psychological punishment if I could not complete what was being demanded of me by Allison and Keith.

I was also physically isolated and instructed to stay in Albany for months at a time.  Although they told me I was free, I could not actually go home when I wanted and would have to ask permission to leave Clifton Park and submit my schedule on an hourly basis. 

This caused great strain on me with my family and friendships at home. I was estranged and being told it was for my own benefit to stay in Albany and not return home much. In fact, when I did go home to visit, they would apply tremendous pressure to make me return to Albany as soon as possible.  My entire life revolved around them and their demands. I was always afraid to ask questions or make any decisions for myself, because if I made the wrong choice there would be consequences. I learned that it was better for me to just except that this was my life and make the best of it to the point of fooling my own self about my happiness. I would fantasize about what might happen to me if Keith or Allison might die, at the time it didn’t cross my mind that I was afraid because I was told my fears were irrational and violent. 

After leaving this group I have experienced both physical and mental damage, including panic attacks, extreme anxiety, digestive issues, as well as physical pain in my body which is amplified by stress.

I suffered long-term physical damage in addition to being branded.  For example, because of the restricted diet I didn’t have a period for two years, and I lost an abundant amount of hair. In complying with the defendants’ instructions, I was losing my ability to reproduce as a woman because my uterus was being stripped because my hormones were so low.

Because of my experiences both during and leaving this group and over 8 months of working as a cooperating witness. I’ve decided to speak out.  

Like everyone else I know who joined NXIVM, I came into this optimistic, searching for a way to better myself and work towards building a better world.  I was open-minded and curious about my life and potential. 

When someone has mastered the ways to manipulate people and take advantage, it always begins slow, it’s a subtle process of shifting how you see the world and yourself.

Nobody just jumps right into the stuff that everyone rightly finds so disturbing.  

No woman is going to walk into a room for the first time, hear someone teaching how inferior and weak women are, and be ok with that. No one is going to ignore their intuition unless they are repeatedly told it is irrelevant and makes them weak, or that you need to be afraid of those outside the groups that they will never understand “US”

It happens slowly, over time, and it happened to hundreds of us, maybe thousands. 

Everyone I know who joined NXIVM is bright, talented and strong. 

Every woman I know who joined DOS is intelligent and passionate about life and just wanted to be even better than she already was. I admire them, and some of us will be friends for life because we understand each other, we love each other, and we will never judge each other.

I hope that with this panel and bringing faces to people who have been associated with words like “cult,” “Coercion,” and “victim,” that we all leave this room understanding how this could have been you rather then “that would never be me.”  

There is no way to help the victims or solve these problems unless you can first stop judging us, because it’s that judgment and stigmas. As well as a lack of education that makes us too ashamed or humiliated to come forward to anyone, let alone speak in front of a room full of people.  

Until we can understand these things better, we are probably not really going to be able to help. So I hope that by me coming here today and speaking, at least some of you will be inspired to learn more and to want to do something about this. Maybe in my case these things happen for a reason. Maybe its something I needed to learn about humanity. 

If that’s the case I think I’m closer to understanding the root of these issues and to stopping other predators by speaking out and exposing them with this information. There is much needed legislation, so that people like Keith Raniere can be stopped much faster in the future.

India is a producer, writer, speaker, and advocate for those leaving cults, high control groups and coercive relationships.  Her seven years spent inside the NXIVM cult led her to investigate how indoctrination and coercive control work on the brain.

One reply on “Still Learning”

Thank you so much for disclosing your personal tragedy and subsequent healing process. You are so brave, intelligent and have achieved so much. You are very fortunate to have such a strong & loving mother to intervene on your behalf. Your description of your journey has helped me to better understand my mother; also a cult victim. Even after all these years, I still wish I could rescue her from their coercive control over ….well almost everything. I am grateful to you for making this film. I would like to help fight for improved legislation regarding coercive control and for more rights for family members to enable intervention (incl. children assisting parents).

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