If you're anything like me, you've probably been kept on the edge of your seat learning about the now infamous cult NXIVM thanks to HBO's incredibly produced documentary series The Vow. You might also be wondering about former Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg's daughter India Oxenberg, as a large part of later episodes of the series focuses on the mother's fight to free her daughter from the clutches of Keith Raniere and his followers.
Well, we don't have to wait much longer to get all the harrowing details, as a new four-part docuseries from STARZ, Seduced: Inside the NXIVM cult, is premiering on October 18. Ahead of the premiere, we got some of the deets of what India Oxenberg went through, and how she was able to escape and turn her life around. In anticipation of the documentary series release, Oxenberg, alongside her mother, gave an exclusive 20 minute interview with People about the ordeal. Here are our main takeaways.
It took seven years after joining NXIVM for Oxenberg to finally escape back home to Malibu, which happened in the summer of 2018. This occurred after the arrest of both cult leader Keith Raniere, as well as coconspirator Allison Mack. It would take Oxenberg another two and half years to go through the difficult process of learning the complete truth of the group she used to believe was her only path to personal growth, as well as working with a specialist in deprogramming to undo the manipulative damage done to her over the years.
As information was highly regulated and controlled within NVIXM, Oxenberg didn't really understand what was going on until the story broke in the New York Times. Still deeply indoctrinated, India Oxenberg was perplexed by it all. "Save me from what?" she recounted to People. It wasn't until she was out and in the process of healing that she truly understood what her mother did for her. "I can't describe in words how grateful I am for that."
I know I have thought while watching The Vow, wow, that could never happen to me. But in all honesty, it could happen to anyone. As India Oxenberg pointed out, "I don't think it has anything to do with intelligence. And I don't think it has to do with where you came from, how much money you have, how little money you have, how you're raised, or if you were exposed to abuse as a child." She and her mother agree it's about being in a vulnerable place in one's life, especially, as Catherine Oxenberg points out, during a time of transition.
Beyond NXIVM and looking into DOS, the secretive group where horrific acts such as branding, extreme dieting, and sexual domination by Keith Raniere occurred, probably raises the most questions. How does someone not realize this is not okay? Mama Oxenberg had some telling insights on that. "And his playbook, Keith Raniere, is identical to the R. Kelly's, to the Jeffrey Epstein's, the Weinstein's - the way they set up these systems, and had enforcers and had protection and creditability, it's very, very similar."
It was India's mother Catherine who introduced her daughter to NXIVM by discovering the so-called "self-help" group and bringing her to her very first meeting. To Catherine at the time, she was looking forward to sharing an adventure in growth together, but little did she know then what the future would hold. "It's a horrible feeling as a parent," she remarked. "I felt responsible for getting her in and equally responsible for getting her out."
As any watcher of The Vow can testify, Catherine Oxenberg took that responsibility gravely seriously, and despite knowing the powerful group she was facing, despite getting death threats, she never faltered on that path.
One can only imagine not only the horrible things India faced but what it must be like now thinking back on it all. Courageously, she said she has planned out what she will say during Raniere's trial, but she did have a message now for the man she claims doesn't have the ability to feel remorse. "I just want him to know that everything I have in my life, I have because of the people that around me, I have because of me and my own agency, and that my life is good and that my life is great and it has nothing to do with him and it has everything to do with me."
For some time, the thought of India's future was something that haunted her. With her history, her branding, she was fearful she would be known as the "cult girl" and felt like "damaged goods." But thanks to support from friends and family, as well as therapy, Oxenberg has been able to move past that, now engaged to a loving and supportive man she met in NYC. She also completed a book and had such an amazing time working on the STARZ docuseries featuring an all-female crew that she is exploring a future in film herself.
Be sure to check out Seduced: Inside the NXIVM cult on STARZ when it premieres this Sunday, October 18, at 9 pm. And be sure to watch the trailer below!