Former NXIVM member India Oxenberg reveals she's engaged

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Former NXIVM member India Oxenberg has found love – and says her new fiancé helped her heal from a hellish ordeal as a sex cult slave.

Oxenberg joined the group in 2011 age 19, was turned into a 'slave', starved, sexually abused by leader Keith Raniere, branded with his initials, and blackmailed to keep her obedient.

The 29-year-old granddaughter of a European princess is now starring in a four-part Starz documentary, revealing how she was ensnared in the twisted organization and even became a 'master' of three slaves herself, before finally coming to her senses and breaking free of NXIVM's clutches.

In an interview with DailyMailTV, Oxenberg said she has been through months of 'deprogramming' with psychologists and cult experts and is slowly rebuilding her life – tearing up when she described how her fiancé, chef Patrick D'Ignazio,  has supported her.

Oxenberg was so heavily indoctrinated she refused to leave even as the FBI arrested Raniere and his accomplices Nancy Salzman and Smallville actress Allison Mack in 2018. Raniere, 60, was sentenced to 120 years in prison last month.

But after discovering a hard drive in Mack's Brooklyn apartment of incriminating interviews of Raniere boasting about his slaves, she finally quit the cult.

'It wasn't until I got some perspective that I was really able to see what was happening to me,' Oxenberg told DailyMailTV.

Former NXIVM member India Oxenberg has found love with Patrick D'Ignazio – and says her new fiancé helped her heal from a hellish ordeal as a sex cult slave. Oxenberg said her journey back to a normal life has been difficult, but said she was comforted to know D'Ignazio 'has my back'

The couple got engaged in October last year and are now living in Los Angeles. 'With Patrick, I just told him everything. I told him as much as I could, but I couldn't get it all out at first. It took me months to get some of these stories or memories out, even to him,' she said

Oxenberg joined NXIVM in 2011 age 19, was turned into a 'slave', starved, sexually abused by leader Keith Raniere, branded with his initials, and blackmailed to keep her obedient

Oxenberg was so heavily indoctrinated she refused to leave even as the FBI arrested Raniere (left) and his accomplices, including Smallville actress Allison Mack (right). Raniere, 60, was sentenced to 120 years in prison last month

And in a disturbing 'bonding experience' one night in Albany, the DOS women held each other down on a table and were branded with Raniere's initials on their crotches 

The 29-year-old said she stumbled upon her future husband, a New York City pizza restaurant chef, after she moved from NXIVM's headquarters in upstate New York.

'I had just left Albany and I was looking for work. I must have applied to 20 different places. At that point if you Googled me it was ''branded sex slave'', ''Keith Raniere's sex slave'',' she said.

'Nobody wanted to rent me an apartment or hire me. But finally I became a manager of a restaurant in the East Village, and that's where I met my now-fiancé.

'I actually have love in my life. I have a wonderful fiancé who's a chef. He helped me heal my relationship with food and get back in the kitchen which I love.'

Oxenberg said her journey back to a normal life has been difficult, but said she was comforted to know D'Ignazio 'has my back'.

'I don't want to sugar-coat it. Healing is complicated and it's not easy. But it's so worth it. I feel like I actually have my life back, and I've never felt more myself than I do now.

'It's helped me so much. I don't think I realized how much I needed someone to have my back. For a long time I didn't care enough about myself to treat myself well. You can carry that into your relationships and I didn't want to do that.'

The couple got engaged in October last year and are now living in Los Angeles.

'With Patrick, I just told him everything. I told him as much as I could, but I couldn't get it all out at first. It took me months to get some of these stories or memories out, even to him,' she said.

'He was genuinely curious about what my experiences were, without judgment.'

Oxenberg's ordeal is detailed in her new documentary, Seduced: Inside The NXIVM Cult, and the sick abuse of her and other women was laid out in a gripping trial that ended last month in the sentencing of Raniere to 120 years in prison.

The 29-year-old said she stumbled upon her future husband, a New York City pizza restaurant chef, after she moved from NXIVM's headquarters in upstate New York. 'I actually have love in my life. I have a wonderful fiancé who's a chef. He helped me heal my relationship with food and get back in the kitchen which I love,' she said 

The former cult member first started taking classes in NXIVM's Executive Success Program (ESP) in 2011 with her mother, Catherine( pictured together) – the daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and cousin of the Prince of Wales, but best known for playing Joan Collins' headstrong daughter Amanda Carrington in the TV show Dynasty

Her mother gradually realized NXIVM was little more than an abusive pyramid scheme, but the organization's leaders succeeded in driving a wedge between them and indoctrinating India

The former cult member first started taking classes in NXIVM's Executive Success Program (ESP) in 2011 with her mother, Catherine – the daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and cousin of the Prince of Wales, but best known for playing Joan Collins' headstrong daughter Amanda Carrington in the TV show Dynasty.

Her mother gradually realized NXIVM was little more than an abusive pyramid scheme, but the organization's leaders succeeded in driving a wedge between them and indoctrinating India.

'They presented it as a self help organization. In reality, that was the front for a larger criminal organization that we were unaware of at the time,' Oxenberg said.

'It wasn't until I became a coach that I started to experience what was more abusive. At the time I just accepted that because I thought I was in a mentorship where I was learning to grow.'

Within months, her 'entire life became NXIVM related' as she took course after course, each costing thousands of dollars and extolling the purported enlightened genius of 'Vanguard', Raniere's cult name.

Members were brainwashed into working more than 20 hours a day for the organization, woken in the middle of the night with tasks and encouraged to punish themselves.

But the most disturbing activity came five years into her time with NXIVM, when Mack invited her to join a 'secret society' within the group called Dominus Obsequious Sororium (DOS).

'Nobody chooses to be in a cult. They don't choose to be branded. This is part of a process of grooming and indoctrination that took five years before I was recruited into DOS,' Oxenberg told DailyMailTV.

'It was one big bait and switch. These women thought they were going into an organization that was supposed to be a sorority, that was helping women to grow, when it was actually a funnel for Keith's perverted desires.'

DOS members were made up of 'pods', with a 'master' and six 'slaves', all ultimately serving Raniere.

Oxenberg's ordeal is detailed in her new documentary, Seduced: Inside The NXIVM Cult, and the sick abuse of her and other women was laid out in a gripping trial that ended last month in the sentencing of Raniere to 120 years in prison

As one of Mack's slaves, Oxenberg said she was ordered to drop to just 106 lbs through a starvation diet of 500 calories a day, to send the actress pictures of her vagina for Raniere, and submit to the cult leader performing oral sex on her multiple times against her wishes. Mack and Oxenberg together in 2018 in Mack's Brooklyn home

'It was incredibly painful,' Oxenberg said. 'I was sort of out of my body at that point. I remember watching myself experience this thing. We were told that the brand was a symbol of the elements. None of us knew it was Keith's initials… It wasn't until I was back home in California I found these tapes with him saying that the brand was his initials, that it really sunk in.'

As one of Mack's slaves, Oxenberg said she was ordered to drop to just 106 lbs through a starvation diet of 500 calories a day, to send the actress pictures of her vagina for Raniere, and submit to the cult leader performing oral sex on her multiple times against her wishes.

And in a disturbing 'bonding experience' one night in Albany, the DOS women held each other down on a table and were branded with Raniere's initials on their crotches.

'It was incredibly painful,' Oxenberg said. 'I was sort of out of my body at that point. I remember watching myself experience this thing.

'The pain was there but I was disassociated. It wasn't until it would reach certain points of my bones that I could feel the jolts of my nerves.

'We were told that the brand was a symbol of the elements. None of us knew it was Keith's initials… It wasn't until I was back home in California I found these tapes with him saying that the brand was his initials, that it really sunk in.'

If she failed to comply with the punishing DOS regime including the strict diet and other demeaning commands texted by Mack, Oxenberg would be made to suffer 'penances' such as standing in the snow at 3am or being smacked with a bamboo paddle.

Before joining DOS, members had to give compromising information and photographs of themselves and their family and friends, which the cult used as blackmail, Oxenberg said.

'They told us the collateral was for us, as a way to back our words. So once again, there was a huge lie. Because really the collateral was blackmail. It was what they used to enslave us and make it impossible to leave,' she said.

Raniere bought handcuffs, leather straps and a cage from sadomasochism websites and encouraged 'masters' to put their slaves in them.

If she failed to comply with the punishing DOS regime including the strict diet and other demeaning commands texted by Mack (right), Oxenberg would be made to suffer 'penances' such as standing in the snow at 3am or being smacked with a bamboo paddle 

The 29-year-old said although she has lost most of her twenties to the cult, she sees a bright future working for the foundation she and her mother set up to help other victims, and a career in documentary production after helping craft Seduced 

When Mack, one of Raniere's own 'slaves', felt she needed to be punished, she wore a cilice, a medieval-like undergarment of painful, needle-like wires.

The actress also persuaded Oxenberg to become a master herself for three other slaves – a role that made her an initial target in the FBI criminal investigation of the cult, before investigators closed in on Raniere, Mack and Salzman.

Oxenberg told DailyMailTV part of her healing process has been reconciling with her victims, as well as her abusers.

'I have a lot of guilt about the people that I enrolled into DOS and into NXIVM,' she said.

'I know that I came from a good place and that my intentions were good. I know they know that about me too.

Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult finale airs on Sunday, November 8th at 9pm ET/PT on STARZ and the STARZ App

'The government drew a very clear line between victims and perpetrators based on a lot of evidence… Thank goodness I don't have to be the person that draws that line.

'I just hope people walk away from the documentary thinking how this could be them. A lot of the reason victims don't speak out is because they are afraid of being judged or harassed or scrutinized, told you're lying or that you liked it.'

The 29-year-old said although she has lost most of her twenties to the cult, she sees a bright future working for the foundation she and her mother set up to help other victims, and a career in documentary production after helping craft Seduced.

'I really want to do more advocacy work. The foundation is really important to me to be able to give people the resources they need to rebuild their lives,' she said.

'I wrote a book. That was incredibly empowering, and I love to write so I hope to do more of that in the future. Producing really reinvigorated me. I worked in production before NXIVM and I forgot how much I loved it, so that's been really nice to explore again.

'Also just enjoying my life, having time with my family and friends and enjoying the little things. That means a lot more to me now.'

Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult finale airs on Sunday, November 8th at 9pm ET/PT on STARZ and the STARZ App. 

A TIMELINE OF NXIVM 

1998: NXIVM is founded

Raniere founded Nxivm with Nancy  Salzman, a psychiatric nurse. It was designed to be a self-help group and was based out of Albany, New York.

Executive Success Programs, Inc., was another name for the courses. Raniere had, until then, tried and failed multiple times to launch his own business. 

He'd grown up in Suffern, New York, with divorced parents, one of whom worked in advertising. 

After graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, upstate New York, in 1982 then tried his hand at marketing before launching Nxivm. 

At the time he founded the organization, he was in a relationship with Toni Natalie, the woman who introduced him to Salzman. Natalie later recalled Salzman becoming enthralled with Raniere, as many other women who met him did. 

2002 Bronfmans recruited 

One of the turning points in the cult came in 2002 when Salzman and Raniere recruited members of the influential Bronfman family. 

The Bronfmans come from the Seagram liquor empire and are heiresses to billions. 

According to his indictment, Raniere tricked Clare Bronfman into giving him millions over the years. 

Her sister, Sara, was not as enthusiastically involved. It was through the Bronfman sisters that the first signs of trouble in Nxivm emerged. 

In 2003, Clare told their father that she'd loaned Nxivm $2million. He became suspicious and publicly accused Raniere of running a cult in a Forbes article. 

For the next several years, they tried to legitimize themselves with wholesome associations, all the while running the cult of sexual servitude to Raniere behind closed doors. 

In 2009, the Dalai Lama even appeared on stage with Raniere at an event in Albany, NY.  

2011 - Allison Mack and India Oxenberg recruited 

In 2011, actresses Allison Mack and India Oxenberg became some of the newest recruits to the group. 

Mack rose through the ranks quickly and grew close to Raniere, who was referred to as the 'Vanguard' to cult members. 

2015 - DOS is created 

DOS was the name given to the secret, sub-sect within the cult that involved women being branded with Raniere's initials and having to perform sexual servitude. 

Oxenberg has told in the past how she was enslaved to Mack. Part of the 'discipline' training was controlling how many calories people ate.

She would have to ask permission for when she could eat, she has since revealed. 

Raniere's indictment refers to DOS as the a 'pyramid'. 

'DOS operates as a pyramid with levels of 'slaves' headed by 'masters.' Slaves are expected to recruit slaves of their own (thus becoming masters themselves), who in tum owe service not only to their own masters but also to masters above them in the DOS pyramid. 

'Raniere alone forms the top of the pyramid as the highest master. Other than Raniere, all participants in DOS are women. Raniere's status as head of the pyramid was concealed from all newly recruited slaves, other than those directly under Raniere,' it reads.

2017 - Investigation launched after former members speak out 

The Department of Justice started probing Raniere in 2017 after some of its former members made contact to share information about DOS. 

He moved from Albany, NY, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

March 2018: Raniere is arrested in his villa in Mexico 

April 2018: Allison Mack is arrested in Brooklyn 

July 2018: Clare Bronfman is arrested in New York City 

April 2019: Bronfman and Mack both plead guilty to racketeering. Bronfman has been sentenced but Mack has not yet  

June 2019: Raniere is found guilty on all counts 

October 2020: Raniere is sentenced

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