Catherine Oxenberg's Daughter India Speaks Out About Her "Inhumane" NXIVM Experience

India Oxenberg and her mother Catherine Oxenberg spoke to ABC News about NXIVM and Keith Raniere, who the 29-year-old called a "master at manipulation" and a "predator."

By Elyse Dupre Oct 13, 2020 3:28 PMTags
Watch: Catherine Oxenberg Tells How Daughter India Changed Through NXIVM

India Oxenberg is opening up about her experience with NXIVM.

The 29-year-old spoke with ABC News in an interview that aired on the Oct. 13 episode of Good Morning America. India joined NXIVM, a purported self-help organization, when she was 19 years old.

"What I thought I was learning was self-help and personal growth," she told Amy Robach. "What I was learning was the opposite. It was inhumane."

India claimed she was introduced to the group by Allison Mack, the 36-year-old Smallville actress who has since pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy in the NXIVM case. Though she said she actually attended her first meeting with her mother, Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg, and alleged the organization tried to break their bond. 

"That was all strategic, and we were unaware of why they were doing that at the time," India admitted. "But it's actually something that I learned later on called parental alienation."

India went on to spend almost seven years in the organization and paid nearly $100,000. India claimed she was being brainwashed without realizing it.

"That's years of grooming," she continued. "And when you're unaware, it's so easy to be led astray, especially by people who are masters at manipulation and these people were that."

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A Guide to the NXIVM Scandal and the Case Against Keith Raniere

Today, she believes Keith Raniere, the founder of NXIVM, to be a "master at manipulation" and a "predator," describing their relationship "took a different turn and became sexual" when she "was commanded to do a seduction assignment." Keith was found guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and attempted sex trafficking in June 2019 and is still awaiting sentencing along with Allison.

"That was the beginning of continual sexual abuse," she shared, "and I didn't see it as that at the time." 

When asked how she would describe the sexual relationship, India described it as rape. "I had given collateral, which automatically removes my choice," she said. "So, I did not have the option to say no. Saying no meant hurting my family or hurting my friends, and I wasn't going to do that."

Good Morning America/ABC

In addition, India detailed her alleged branding. "It was horrible," she said. "At the time, I thought I was doing this empowering, bonding moment with a group of friends that I considered my nearest and dearest." 

Her mother, who joined her daughter for the interview, claimed India also had "no idea that it was Keith's initials."

India added, "That's the real thing. We were told that it was a symbol of the elements and that this was going to be a bonding experience. And we were sleep deprived; we were starved; we were coerced. You don't just decide to be branded. You're coerced into being branded."

Watch: The Story of NXIVM Cult Leader Keith Raniere

When asked if she ever thought the day would come when India would be out, Catherine said she "lived in fear for probably two years" but that her faith had always been stronger than her fear.

"When I first confronted her at the end of May in 2017, I thought I could wake her up," Catherine, who has spoken out about her daughter's experience for years, told ABC News. "I told her she was brainwashed and that she was in a cult. I said, 'I know about the blackmail and I don't care if it's about me. Don't let that be the reason you stay in.'"

However, India said she was "too deeply in," "scared" and "confused" at the time. "It was stages of revelations," she said when asked how she "woke up." "And I started working with a deprogrammer, who helped me tremendously. But you have to be open to it. Like, you can't force somebody to see the truth. They need to want to, and I didn't want to for a long time." 

Now, she's looking to the future and has covered up the branding with an empowering tattoo of an evil eye with a phrase that translates to "still learning."

"We all have metaphorical scars," she said. "I have a physical scar, but you don't have to live with that. You don't have to live with Keith Raniere haunting you. You can reclaim your life. You can learn from it, and you can move on. And you can heal, and you can have love. And I just feel so lucky that I can have that." 

A press release shared by the office of U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue following Keith's ruling in June stated that "the goal of the criminal enterprise was to promote Raniere, for example, by exalting his teachings and ideology, and to recruit new members, including as sexual partners for Raniere".

The released stated that, in 2015, "Raniere added a secret society within NXIVM called DOS or 'The Vow,' with levels of women 'slaves' headed by 'masters.'" Per the document, "Raniere maintained command and control over his DOS members by collecting 'collateral' from them, such as sexually explicit photos and letters making accusations against their loved ones that would be embarrassing if disclosed."

E! news reached out to Keith for comment regarding India's interview but his lawyer declined to make a statement.

India will further open up about her experience in a new docuseries for STARZ called Seduced: Inside the Nxivm Cult, which premieres Oct. 18.