Escaping the NXIVM Cult, a Lifetime true story movie, is based on India Riven Oxenberg and the mother who saved her, Catherine Oxenberg.” This ripped from the headlines 2019 Lifetime movie inspired by Catherine’s 2018 book, Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult, surrounds the story of self-improvement and self-help guru Keith Raniere, a charismatic leader and pyramid schemer who seduced young women with his charm.
The true story is similar to Sarah Edmondson’s case, another woman who escaped. Her book titled, “Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult That Bound My Life,” was released on September 17, 2019. Lifetime TV’s documentary– Beyond The Headlines: Escaping the NXIVM Cult with Gretchen Carlson–follows the true-crime movie.
Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter Lifetime Movie Synopsis
A mother stops at nothing to rescue her adult daughter from a brainwashing self-help cult.
NXIVM: Hollywood’s Famous Members
Catherine Oxenberg played Amanda Carrington in Dynasty.
India Riven Oxenberg is also an actress. She played in I Married a Princess and The Fallen Ones.
Allison Mack is known for her role in Smallville, Dirty Little Secret, and The Nightmare Room. She reached out to several Hollywood members and feminist writers through tweets to recruit them, according to Vanity Fair.
Keith Raniere, a power-hungry master, had the respect of a few Hollywood giants and was described as “a mythological figure--the guy with the 240 IQ,” according to the 2003 Forbes article: Cult of Personality.
Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter Based On THIS TRUE STORY
The nightmare began in 2011 when Catherine and India Oxenberg accepted an invitation to attend a self-help meeting with a close friend. Catherine knew it wasn’t the right path for her though she listened patiently. But her daughter, India, soaked it all up and showed great interest.
After a short time, India Riven Oxenberg seemed distant from her family but closer to members of—what by then— Catherine deemed a cult.
Catherine tried to reason with India, hoping to convince her daughter to leave the cult. But India sank even deeper behind a cloud of weird self-help talk and phrases only known to the group. There were strange rituals, barefoot walks with martial arts overtones, and starvation diets. Catherine later discovered Keith Raniere liked to keep the young women skinny so he’d enjoy them when it was their appointed time “to be with him” intimately.
Eating small and keeping thin is suggested in many prosperity churches or groups. The idea is—too much food muddies up the mind, causes eventual constipation, prohibits the ability to move quickly and easily and to think optimally.
Allison Mack was there to make sure the women stayed in line and remained obedient. Keith Raniere also required that the women brand or sear his initials into their skin, particularly in the private sections of their bodies, according to Fox News. Sensual group photos were taken during “family photo” night.
For Catherine, a desperate mother at her wit’s end, the only way to get her daughter out of the cult was to expose the organization and to shine an unwanted spotlight on them by going public with her story. After the story came to the media’s attention, India Oxenberg made the following post on Facebook.
“I’m absolutely fine, great actually… These are my friends and colleagues, I’ve never seen anything but good come out of this work.”
But she wasn’t fine. India had been heavily indoctrinated, and Catherine’s bold move threatened to tear the mother and daughter apart forever. Still, it was a step that needed to be made—no matter what the cost.
Today, the mother and daughter continue to work on their relationship. Watch Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter, airing tomorrow night at 8/7 p.m. on Lifetime.
[Main image via Lifetime Television/with permission]