India Oxenberg describes NXIVM's branding ceremony: 'I remember the smell — of flesh'

Watch: India Oxenberg recalls NXIVM’s branding

When India Oxenberg joined NXIVM at age 19, she was interested in the group’s personal success and empowerment program. What she didn’t know, is that she would be groomed for years to become part of Keith Raniere’s “sex cult.”

“What I thought I was learning was self-help and personal growth. What I was learning was the opposite. It was inhumane,” she told ABC News.

India Oxenberg and Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg open up about NXIVM.
India Oxenberg and Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg open up about NXIVM. (Photo: Instagram / Getty Images)

India, now 29, is the daughter of Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg. Both women attended the first meeting for Raniere’s “self-help” group together, but it was India who was slowly brainwashed as she was led astray from her mom.

“And that was all strategic. And we were unaware of why they were doing that at the time,” Catherine said in the joint interview. “But it's actually something that I learned later on called parental alienation.”

India spent nearly seven years — and $100,000 — in the organization.

“That's years of grooming. And when you’re unaware, it’s so easy to be led astray, especially by people who are masters at manipulation,” she said. “And these people were that, especially Keith Raniere. He’s a master at manipulation.”

India added, “If there's one thing he's intelligent at, it’s that. And he’s a predator.”

Within NXIVM was a secret women-branding sorority called “DOS,” in which masters directed their slaves to engage in sexual acts with Raniere, according to prosecutors. Smallville star Allison Mack was one of those masters and India said it was the actress who introduced her to the society under the guise of female empowerment.

“It was a trap,” she shared. “And it was a ploy for Keith to enslave women for his own sexual desires.”

India said she was “commanded” to seduce Raniere.

“That was the beginning — of continual sexual abuse. And I didn’t see it as that at the time,” she explained. “I would describe that sexual relationship as rape.”

Feds claim Raniere and his slave masters blackmailed women with “collateral” in order to keep them compliant. The blackmail scheme worked on India.

“I did not have the option to say no,” India added, noting “collateral” often meant handing over damaging information about one’s family. “Saying no meant hurting my family or hurting my friends. And I wasn’t gonna do that.”

India also recalled the initiation ceremony into DOS where she was unknowingly branded with Raniere’s initials.

“We were told that it was a symbol of the elements and that this was gonna be a bonding experience,” she said explained. “And we were sleep-deprived. We were starved. We were coerced.”

India also spoke with People ahead of the upcoming STARZ documentary Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult and gave more disturbing details about that night in January 2016.

“I had two women holding my hands and my feet so I wouldn't convulse,” India told the magazine. “I remember the smell — of flesh.”

India’s famous mother helped blow the lid off NXIVM by going public in 2017 as she fought to “save” her daughter.

“I was scared to death but it didn't matter if I was scared,” Catherine told the magazine. “I knew what I was up against. I knew nobody had dared to do what I was doing because this cult had financially ruined them.”

India added, “I can't describe in words how grateful I am for that. Because the truth is, I didn't see a future for myself when I was there. I was really kind of committed to being there forever, indefinitely.”

Last year, Raniere was convicted on sex-trafficking, child pornography and multiple other charges. India said she plans to give a victim impact statement at his Oct. 27 as her life “was hijacked by this group.” (Those statements had quite the impact at prominent NXIVM member Clare Bronfman’s sentence.)

Mack pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges. No sentencing date has been set and it’s unclear if India will participate in that one, too. Mack expressed remorse during her hearing last year.

“[Allison] had a lot of power and control over me and I was scared of her but she can't hurt me anymore,” India explained to People. “I think in a lot of ways she saw herself as a kind of Joan of Arc character, willing to fall on a sword for Keith.”

India, who has been undergoing two years of intensive therapy and cult deprogramming, said she’s ready to finally share her story.

“I would have been happy to not say anything, but I knew too much about what happened and I had a moral obligation to make sure it didn't happen to anyone else,” she said.

Watch — First prominent NXIVM member sentenced to nearly 7 years in prison:

Watch: What Clare Bronfman’s prison sentence in NXIVM cult case

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