SEDUCED is a four part documentary series which takes the viewer through first hand experiences of how intelligent people can unknowingly fall prey to cults or “high control groups.”
Groups like NXIVM, the cult at the center of this series, masquerade as legitimate organizations offering self help classes, professional workshops, spiritual guidance, or other practices. SEDUCED is based around the harrowing first person account of India Oxenberg’s journey through the self-help group turned destructive sex cult, and features a group of courageous women whose experiences in NXIVM bring context and perspective to India’s story. The series explores NXIVM’s deft and alluring recruitment process, and how gradual indoctrination through the curriculum worked to hijack the brains of its members.
At nineteen, wanting to start her own business, India Oxenberg signed up for a program which she believed would strengthen her entrepreneurial skills. Instead, over the next seven years, she was targeted by predatory cult leader Keith Raniere, coerced into joining a secret master-slave society within NXIVM, branded with Raniere’s initials, and held up as a poster child of the cult. The other women in the series, Ana Cecilia, Ashley, Debora, Kelly, Tabby, and Naomi, all took NXIVM classes and had different experiences in the program, but the stories of their recruitment and indoctrination are hauntingly similar.
The message of the documentary series is to bring awareness to coercive control. No one knowingly joins a cult. It often begins with taking a class, joining a life skills group, or finding what is perceived to be a like-minded community. NXIVM used celebrities and accomplished, notable members around the globe to recruit others.
The series SEDUCED, and this site, are designed to help recognize what makes some of these groups destructive and harmful to their members. The notion that people who end up in cults are somehow broken is simply not true. Cults seek out resourceful, educated people who can become productive for the organization. The abuse of women in particular is prevalent in high-control groups, yet men are vulnerable as well. The scars of coercion, thought reform or “brainwashing” are deep and usually invisible. While a secret slave-master group within NXIVM enforced physical branding of the members in their pelvic region, the scars left behind go even deeper than physical. As former member Naomi eloquently states in SEDUCED, “our brains were branded.” Coercive persuasion is not always easy to detect, and healing from these traumatic experiences is life-long.
The series and this site are dedicated to the brave women who are the subjects of SEDUCED, who managed to leave the cult and transform their experiences into activism. And to all of those who may be in a cult, a high control group or a coercive relationship, who are trying to leave… you have come to the right place.
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Episode 101: Hooked
India Oxenberg, the 28-year-old daughter of actress Catherine Oxenberg, speaks out for the first time about how she became involved with the NXIVM cult at age 19, and spent the next seven years inside. We discover that her mother unsuspectingly took India to a course that promised a ‘practical MBA.’ India is joined by a chorus of other women, Ashley, Deb, Kelly, Naomi, and Tabby, whose stories of how they got involved parallel her own. We also hear from the world’s leading cult experts on the methodology used by cults to attract members. While on the surface, NXIVM seemed legitimate, with celebrities and notable people attending its courses worldwide, the first episode gives us glimpses into cult leader Keith Raniere’s sordid past that was skillfully hidden from prospective members.
Episode 102: Indoctrinated
India returns to Albany to try to understand how NXIVM’s curriculum transformed her into a true believer. There, she learns that former member Daniela was imprisoned in a room by Keith for two years. India seeks out cult expert Rick Alan Ross to learn more about NXIVM. Former member Ana Cecilia tells India that she had a psychotic break in an intensive ten years earlier. Naomi reveals how her own back story as a child in the Children of God made her skeptical about Keith’s teachings. India remembers when Catherine got her a job on a movie set, and India was pressured by the cult’s leadership to cut family ties and commit further. India tells us how Allison Mack approached her about an elite, secret society of women, a decision that has haunted her ever since.
Episode 103: Enslaved
In the secret master-slave society known as DOS, India is forced to turn over damaging “collateral,” which would compromise her loved ones. She is then ordered by her master, Allison Mack, to “seduce Keith.” She is subjected to ongoing sexual abuse which lasts over a year, while on a forced starvation diet, sleep deprived, emotionally abused, physically punished, cut off from her family, and branded without anesthesia.
Episode 104: Exposed
Catherine begins the fight of her life to expose the cult and rescue her daughter. India, by now an indoctrinated slave master herself, becomes a potential co-conspirator when Raniere is charged with a battery of crimes. Ultimately India provides critical evidence to prosecutors and speaks out against Raniere and his crimes. India, Tabby, Naomi, Deb, and Kelly are invited speak publicly about their experiences, and the finale ends in healing and recovery, as the former members use their voices to become advocates for others.