What is NXIVM? The multi-level marketing cult explained and how to watch India Oxenberg’s story in new series

The organisation was founded by Keith Raniere, with Smallville actress Allison Mack reportedly second-in-command

NXIVM (pronounced ‘Nex-E-Um’) is a cult that has been in the spotlight recently, following the arrest of founder, Keith Raniere, and associate, actress Allison Mack, in early 2018.

In August this year, HBO released a docuseries about the cult called The Vow, and now the subject is being explored again with a new series from Starz, called Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult.

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This is everything you need to know about the new series and NXIVM itself.

What is NXIVM?

NXIVM was an American multi-level marketing company which operated for almost two decades, under the illusion of offering self help.

It was founded by Keith Raniere, who was known as ‘Vanguard’ within the organisation. He created NXIVM in 1998, alongside Nancy Salzman, who was known as ‘Prefect.’

Since the late 1990s, it has been estimated that around 16,000 people enrolled in courses offered by NXIVM, with participants taking part in workshops, like the ‘Executive Success Programs.’

The women involved in the organisation were even branded with the founders initials (Photo: Starz)

Raniere used the women within the organisation to recruit more women for secretive groups inside NXIVM. The women in these sub-groups were blackmailed, sexually assaulted and even branded with the initials of Raniere.

Raniere was convincted in federal court for sex trafficking and racketeering on 19 June 2019.

What is Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult about?

The new documentary series from Starz explores the journey of India Oxenberg, daughter of former Dynasty actress, Catherine Oxenberg.

The series uncovers how Oxenberg, who was 19 when she joined NXIVM, was brought into the cult, groomed, escaped, and her role as a co-conspirator in assisting the US government in bringing down Raniere and the NXIVM group.

Talking to Variety, Oxenberg said, “I felt like it was my chance to take the story back into my own hands and say, ‘Hey, there’s a person here! No just a branded, sex slave, cult girl - a human being.’”

While mostly looking at Oxenberg’s experiences, the series will also examine the experiences of other women who were involved in the cult.

The series comes from producer Cecilia Peck (Brave Miss World, Shut Up and Sing) and Inbal B Lessner (They Played for Their Lives, Mothers in the Middle).

Peck said, “I had been targeted for recruitment by NXIVM, so the subject was of personal interest.

“In many ways, India could be anyone’s daughter. She was a young woman victimised by a serial predator, and I wanted to find out how this 19 year old girl had become indoctrinated. There was a fearless quality to her inquiry that we were drawn to.”

Lessner added, “The common question people have is, ‘Why didn’t she get up and leave when no one was forcing her to stay?’ The brave women who shared their stories with us have struggled with self blame and shame for falling prey to this cult.

“All of their voices were instrumental in telling a very complex story, which we hope shines a light on systematic manipulation and coercion.”

Is there a trailer?

On 13 October, the Starz YouTube channel released a trailer for the documentary series.

The trailer opens with India Oxenberg saying, “My name is India, and I was in a cult for seven years.”

It then shows home footage of Oxenberg as a child as she explains that, when she was a kid, she felt very loved - but grew up looking for a “more purposeful life.”

Oxenberg says that NXIVM was a program that supposedly made people's lives better.

The trailer then shows other women saying they felt accepted and like they had found something special in NXIVM - but it doesn’t take long before things turn dark.

“Keith Raniere is the most horrific cult leader,” one woman says, with another explaining that she had to ask permission to eat and to sleep.

The trailer ends with Oxenberg saying, “I had no idea the worst was about to happen.”

When is the series released?

Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult launched on Sunday 18 October. The docuseries will be available to watch via Starz.

Starz offers a huge selection of US programming, and you can access the content by using the Starz app.

A subscription costs £4.99 per month, but there is a free trial available for you to try before you buy.