The following text is the Victim Impact Statement read by India Oxenberg at the sentencing of convicted sex trafficker, Keith Raniere on October 27, 2020. Keith was the leader of the organization called NXIVM, a cult located in Albany and Clifton Park, New York.
You stole seven years of my life.
Yet just last night I bolted up from sleeping as I do most nights since leaving the cult, gripped with fear of his words, the unwanted touch, the horror of hearing his voice in the darkness telling me to wait naked until he would appear, unwanted, uninvited. I was totally frozen, leaving my body so so I didn’t have to be with you when you would rub your fingers across my brand without me knowing it was your monogram you gazed and smiled at.
The unimaginable shame of waiting naked like a piece of meat, a branded brainwashed sex slave, as I have been known in the media because of you.
Will I have to feel this for the rest of my life? I don’t know, but I do know I have wanted to end my life on numerous nights since leaving, believing your words: I’m weak, without substance, no sense of self. I had been left with little to no self worth, for a while I wondered if anyone would even miss me or if I mattered at all?
But I also know I will be a victim of Keith Rainerie for the rest of my life, but I don’t need to live as one.
Im here because you exploited me, you coerced and manipulated me.
You tried to destroy my family, turning me against my own mother. You told me in your own words she was a psychopath, pulling me back into your hell painted as sanctity.
You’re a sexual predator, you raped me, forcing me to engage in sexual acts with blackmail compounding over me.
When you touched me I recoiled, blaming myself like I was defected, broken.I felt obligated to engage with you because of the blackmail and saying no to your advances meant consequences and punishments from Allison Mack. Forced stays in Albany turned into permanent relocation and restriction of my travel and autonomy.
You’re cruel and racist:
Coming up with nicknames for me and other women, referring to Michelle as the N word, and laughing as you instructed Allison Mack to refer to her as the N word as well, one of the most cruel acts I’ve ever witnessed, encouraging Allison to punish any one of us that stood up against her.
Every action orchestrated by you, a woman whom once desired a carrier in social justice, now happily refers to herself as a slave for you?
The Brand: KAR:
You are a liar and a sadist, getting pleasure from watching our skin burn with your initials while we innocently accept your lies. Lies of love, bonding, rising above pain for a greater good.
No, you’re a deviant. Trying to mask your self as a lamb. Let’s call it what it is. Everyone can see you now.
I trusted you, you told me you had my best intentions, but you hurt me.
These are some of the ways I was affected during my time in NXIVM and in DOS:
I was put on a restricted calorie diet for over a year. I was permitted only limited sleep. A constant mix of praise and verbal abuse became my normal life.
I was instructed to be 106 pounds and needed to lose 20 pounds without any consideration for my health or well being.
You played doctor and I was a human science experiment, this caused me to lose my period, threatening my ability to reproduce because I became so thin.
I still suffer from medical issues because of this, all because you wanted me to look like I was a 12 year old girl, hungry, weak and easily manipulated. I had no idea of these perverted desires of your and often would put myself to bed to avoid my extreme hunger pains.
Financial Exploitation: I was making little to no money the entire seven years that I was in NXIVM, a time when many others might be building a career or getting an education, and I spent nearly 100,000.00 on your curriculums and related expenses.
Branding: I was branded with a cauterizing pen. This extremely painful procedure lasted for over 30 minutes and took months to heal. I may have to live the rest of my life with Keith Raniere’s initials seared into my flesh. I am not sure how I will ever be able to put this fully behind me.I don’t need to look at the brand to remember the abuse. I just close my eyes and I remember.
Allison Mack required me to ask permission for anywhere that I wanted to travel or people that I wanted to see or engage with. Allison required me to send her my whereabouts on an hourly schedule, as well as my weight, and I had to ask permission for everything that I wanted to eat or drink.
I was also instructed to write damaging documents against my own mother from Clare Bronfman and Nancy Salzman, who instructed me to sue my mother.
I was also required to recruit other women into DOS and was punished if I did not.
I was also instructed to seduce Keith as a test of my loyalty. Supposedly this would show I was willing to push against fears and experience what it feels like to be rejected. This is how they manipulated me into thinking I was doing this for myself, and so my own “growth” turned into dozens of sexual encounters with a man I was not attracted to. I would never have consented to this if I wasn’t being blackmailed or threatened with my collateral I did not obey.
I did not join ESP to be abused and in-slaved. I was gaslit and coerced.
I still hear your words “Everything I do for you is for your own good”
“You’re a bad Master, you’re weak, you let people walk all over you” when I wouldn’t punish the people who I was forced to recruit.
“You’re an entitled little princess, you don’t know who you are, you have no sense of self.” “ If you don’t do this you will never grow.”
“You’re good at being a slave, those skills come naturally to you”
I experienced emotional humiliation from people who said they 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 because of all the consequences if I were to do so. 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.
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, and suicidal thoughts.
Keith Raniere is without remorse … I know that, despite anything he may say now.
He is not capable of changing. I see this clearly now as he instructs his loyalists to defend him from prison. To me it is only fitting that he gets a permanent sentencing as his damage is permanent on me and so many others … it is bad enough to be physically raped which he did, but Keith also is the type of predator who targets and degrades the entire fabric of his victims’ lives. He taints everything that is good and destroys it. I would like to never have to live in fear of Keith Raniere again, and that no other women or men would ever be able to be victimized by him or his cohorts. I’m asking for life.
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.