Beyond the Headlines: Escaping the NXIVM Cult: The 5 shocking things we learned

(L to R) Catherine Oxenburg and Gretchon Calrson star in Beyond the Headlines: Escaping the NXIVM Cult with Gretchen Carlson, premiering Saturday, September 21 at 10pm ET/PT.Photo by Richard KnappCopyright 2019
(L to R) Catherine Oxenburg and Gretchon Calrson star in Beyond the Headlines: Escaping the NXIVM Cult with Gretchen Carlson, premiering Saturday, September 21 at 10pm ET/PT.Photo by Richard KnappCopyright 2019 /

Follow up on the Escaping the NXIVM Cult film with the documentary film. Gretchen Carlson interviews actress Catherine Oxenberg in this revealing hour.

The NXIVM cult has made headlines this past year with the recent arrests of leader Keith Raniere and his second-in-command, Smallville actress Allison Mack. Lifetime takes us further into the cult’s downfall with Beyond the Headlines: Escaping the NXIVM Cult.

The hour-long documentary premiered after the debut of Lifetime original film, Escaping the NXIVM Cult. Both the film and documentary detail what actress Catherine Oxenberg went through to rescue her daughter India from the dangerous inner sanctum of NXIVM.

Gretchen Carlsson conducts a one-on-one interview with Oxenberg in addition to speaking with cult deprogrammer Rick Ross, investigative journalist Frank Parlato, and former members of NXIVM. Beyond the Headlines is an informative look into the ultimate downfall of Keith Raniere and the atrocities he committed while in power.

5. India was used as a pawn to get to Catherine.

If you watched the dramatic film preceding the documentary, you know that Catherine initially joined NXIVM alongside her daughter. However, she became suspicious of the group’s manifesto and coursework.

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Catherine eventually defected from the group while India became increasingly absorbed. Catherine believes that Keith targeted India as a means of taking revenge against Catherine’s insubordination.

4. The documentary details the horrifying branding process.

Catherine attempted to get India out of the cult from the time she left. But the ultimate straw that broke the camel’s back came when Catherine learned about Keith branding women. It was this discovery that led her on a mission to destroy NXIVM once and for all.

Within NXIVM, there was an inner “secret society” of sorts known as DOS (Dominant Over Slave). Certain girls were invited into the group advertised as being about women empowerment. In reality, it was anything but. Branding was a requirement for becoming an official part of DOS.

Sarah Edmonton, actress and cult defector, describes the process in her confessional. She claims she and the other women were lead blindfolded and naked into a guest room at Allison Mack’s house. There, they were laid down on a medical table and branded with Keith’s initials with a cauterizing pen. She claims the entire ordeal took 4-5 hours.

Ultimately, it was learning about the branding that kickstarted the investigations that would lead to Raniere’s arrest.

Related Story. 5 disturbing moments from Escaping the NXIVM Cult. light

3. Allison Mack’s role in NXIVM.

Allison was India’s “master.” She was responsible for grooming India and handled the branding process. In the documentary, we are privy to phone conversations between Raniere and Mack, where he described how he wanted the branding to proceed.

It was Raniere’s wish that the ordeal would be conducted similarly to a “human sacrifice,” with each woman tied down, unclothed, and in a specific position. Mack was also in a sexual relationship with Keith in addition to being in love with him.

Mack also implemented Raniere’s harsh starvation diets and assisted in brainwashing the new members of DOS. After her arrest, Battlestar Galactica actress Nicki Clyne became India’s new master. Clyne and Mack were married at one point as a way to avoid immigration laws.

2. Catherine feared the possibility of India committing suicide.

Despite the growing furor and increased FBI involvement in the NXIVM case, India became even more entrenched in the group. Catherine worried that Keith would enact a mass suicide akin to Jonestown or Heaven’s Gate as a way to escape being arrested and as the ultimate revenge against Catherine.

Thankfully, Catherine was eventually able to break through to India. When Keith was arrested, the mother and daughter were slowly able to mend their relationship and rebuild trust.

1. There is still a danger.

Despite Keith and Allison’s recent convictions, (sentencing is set for later this year), there is still a danger from NXIVM. Frank Parlato calls people still part of NXIVM “The Remainers.” He believes they live in a New York neighborhood.

Parlato continues to report on NXIVM on his website. However, Catherine claims she isn’t overly worried. Given how public her story is now if something were to happen to her, it would be highly suspicious.

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If you’re at all interested in learning more about the NXIVM cult, Beyond the Headlines: Escaping the NXIVM Cult is very informative. You can also read Catherine Oxenberg’s book, which the movie was based on.

In Catherine’s own words, Keith’s arrest is “a victory for women standing up and saying no to abuse.”

Lifetime’s “Ripped From the Headlines” line-up continues next Saturday, Sept. 28 at 8:00 p.m. ET with Trapped: The Alex Cooper Story.