Text message exposes sex cult leader
A few months into India Oxenberg's time in DOS, one text message almost exposed the truth behind the secret sex cult she had been unknowingly recruited into by friend, Smallville actress Allison Mack.
Mack had introduced India into the organisation, which she claimed was a self-improvement group only for females, instructing the vulnerable young woman that she needed to submit to being her personal slave in order to better herself through service.
"The group was positioned as a top-secret internal society providing women with one-on-one coaching," India told Elle.com.
"It sounded great. In reality, it was a bait-and-switch scheme that ended up with me being enslaved and branded."
India spent seven years brainwashed inside NXIVM - a so-called personal development organisation where members could undertake courses to help them reach their full potential.
But in reality NXIVM saw members often spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to reach the next level, while also enabling its founder Keith Raniere to prey on young women.
Raniere was last month sentenced to 120 years in jail for sex trafficking, conspiracy and child pornography possession.
In order to join DOS, India had to give Mack monthly collateral in the form of sexually explicit photos and damaging information about her loved ones that could be sent to the media.
While DOS was a supposedly female organisation, as it was within NXIVM it still came under the leadership of Raniere.
But despite the fact India was often asked to supply sexually explicit photos, she was assured Raniere had a monk-like abstinence when it came to sex.
India believed this too, without question, until Mack took her and three of her other slaves on a bonding trip in late 2016.
Recalling the trip in Stan documentary Seduced, India said it had been a fun group for her and the four other women until it got dark.
"After dinner Allison sat us down and said the trip was not just for fun. Allison instructed us to take what she referred to as a 'family picture' which meant all of us girls standing together, fully naked while Allison took a picture," she said.
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India said she and the other women saw Mack text the photo to Raniere, who responded by writing "All mine?" alongside a devil emoji.
"(One of the slaves) Nicole (not her real name) saw the text and she was furious and she said to Allison, 'If they're supposed to be for us why is Keith even getting these texts?' and, 'Why is he sending a devil face emoji if he's supposed to be so holy?' She asked Allison if he was getting off on them."
In response India says a furious Mack "defended herself", accusing Nicole of projecting her own "perverted" ideas on her and Keith.
"She got totally reprimanded and myself and the other girls were kind of paralysed, like we didn't know what do to or how to respond," she said.
"Allison was angry and she said as a punishment I'm going to take up close pictures of your p**sies.
"So I took off all my clothes again and stood in line and we just went one by one."
India says she was left "really uncomfortable" and "sort-of frozen" and didn't want to speak up because she was terrified of being reprimanded.
'HE STARTED TO DEMAND EXPLICIT PHOTOS'
The holiday photos weren't the only time sexual photos of India were sent to Raniere. He would also message her directly, demanding she send him explicit shots of herself where she was.
"I would get random texts from Keith all hours of the day. He started to demand explicit photographs, mostly up close pictures of my vagina," India told the documentary.
"If the picture wasn't close up or explicit enough or I didn't look happy, he would make do it over again until he said it was good enough."
India said the photos made her feel "very uncomfortable" but she was again reassured that they were "a practice in pushing myself out of my comfort zone".
Mack also told India she had to work with Raniere on her "problems with sex" - even though she didn't know she had any.
She was instructed to meet Raniere in a bedroom at one of his townhouses known as "the library".
"Then he began to what he referred to as 'working on me', which was him performing oral sex, which felt like hours," she said.
"I just sort of lay there. It didn't feel good, I just felt paralysed."
'HE DECIDED I HAD TO BE 48 KILOS'
Raniere and Mack's abuse of India wasn't just sexual, she was also forced on a restrictive diet.
"Allison instructed me to take a picture in my underwear and send to Keith. He decided that I had to be 106 pounds (48 kilos)," India said.
"I couldn't remember the last time I weighed 106 pounds, probably when I was 12."
India was told she could eat only 500 calories a day and had to ask permission first, with Mack saying it was a "practice in discipline and self-restraint".
"Before eating anything I had to ask (Mack) permission, so 'Master may I please have 90 calories?'" India said.
If India disobeyed any of Mack's rules she would have to punish herself, subjecting herself to cold showers, standing in the snow at 3am or doing extra readings of Raniere's.
'I BEGAN TO QUESTION EVERYTHING'
India's time inside NXIVM came to an abrupt end in 2018 when Raniere and Mack were arrested.
Their arrest gave India the chance to finally break away and return to her mum in California.
Trusted with looking after her master Mack's belongings, flash drives finally revealed the truth about DOS - including the excruciating painful branding she had gotten.
"That fall (autumn) I discovered flash drives that revealed my DOS brand was not a symbol of the elements like I'd been told. It was actually Keith's initials," she told Elle.com.
"When I heard that, I began to question everything about the last seven years of my life: What was the purpose of DOS? What did it mean to be in a master-slave dynamic with ultimate obedience?"
India's mother, former Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg, had been introduced to NXIVM alongside her then 19-year-old daughter in 2011, but had left the group early on after finding the behaviour of some of the group's members disturbing.
Catherine had spent the years before Mack's and Raniere's arrest campaigning against the group and once India found the flash drives, encouraged her to got to the authorities.
India did, handing over the flash drives and becoming a co-operating witness for the FBI for nine months.
Since leaving NXIVM, India says she has been able to find closure through therapy and meeting her fiance, Patrick.
"I thought I was totally asexual, when really I was just being abused and didn't feel any feelings of sexuality or interest towards men or women. I had to rebuild that," India told Vanity Fair.
Seduced is available to stream now on Stan.
Originally published as Text message exposes sex cult leader