India Oxenberg Survived the NXIVM 'Sex Cult'. Her Mother Fought For Her Through it All.

Episode Four of HBO's The Vow details Catherine Oxenberg's effort to save her daughter.

Esquire/September 14, 2020

By Lauren Kranc

Back in 2011, 1980s Dynasty actress and royal descendant Catherine Oxenberg thought that NXIVM’s Executive Success Programs would be a good tool for her 19-year-old daughter India. She believed India would benefit from the empowering self-help workshops NXIVM purported to provide to its members. Eight years later, Catherine released a book Captive: A Mother's Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult as a last resort to get India out of the organization which had slowly groomed her into “slavery” to NXIVM leader “Vanguard” Keith Raniere.

Episode Four of HBO’s The Vow delves into the horrific sexual abuse rampant within DOS, the secret women’s sorority within the greater NXIVM organization. The episode details how India Oxenberg, along with many other women, had been put on a low-calorie starvation diet, forced to provide nude photos as collateral to be used as blackmail if she ever chose to leave, and branded with “Vanguard” Keith Raniere’s initials as initiation. India Oxenberg remained a staunch devotee to the organization even when media buzz surrounding NXIVM began in late 2017, when Sarah Edmonson went to The New York Times with her personal tale of branding and abuse. And when Catherine Oxenberg’s personal attempts to reason with her daughter came up short, too, she published her own expose in January of 2018. But once Mexican authorities arrested Keith Raniere in February of 2018 and extradited him back to New York, the mounting pressure from India's mother, as well as a new boyfriend, finally pushed her to leave the organization for good.

In September of 2019, Lifetime adapted Catherine’s book into the movie Escaping The NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight To Save Her Daughter. At the time of the film’s release, however, India had already cut ties with the organization. “I was hands off for the movie,” Catherine said on Good Morning America when the film was released. “Writing the book, my focus was saving my daughter. Deciding to make the film actually was a harder decision because my daughter was out of the cult. She wants to move forward with her life. She doesn’t want the stigma of being associated with NXIVM. But the decision was it's more important to expose these sexual predators and their predatory tactics because when they lose power, their playbook is very slim." India did not speak to the press at all for the film’s release, but at the time, her mother said she was doing well. “There’s been a lot of healing and she’s in a very empowered place. I’m really, really proud of her. It was a terrifying ordeal.”

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Since leaving NXIVM, India, who is now 29 years old, has kept a rather low profile. However, she is happily engaged to New York chef Patrick D’Ignazio as of October 2018, according to her Instagram. She also attended the closing arguments against her former “master” Keith Raniere in federal court in June 2019, in which he was convicted of racketeering, sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, and wire fraud conspiracy. He faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years imprisonment and up to life in prison, and his sentencing is set for October 27 of this year.

Like Catherine’s book and its film adaptation, Episode Four of The Vow features Catherine’s perspective of India’s NXIVM experience without any input from India herself.

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