Susan Dones 7 year old post on Saratoga in Decline relevant today

Susan Dones

This is an abridged version of a post written by Susan Dones in 2010. It appeared in Saratoga In Decline. With Susan’s permission, Frank Report is re-posting it. It seems as relevant today as it was seven years ago.

September 24, 2010

Ex-NXIVM leader speaks out

Susan Dones headed the Tacoma Center. When she left, the Center closed and was not reopened.
My Experience with NXIVM
To people concerned about their loved ones in NXIVM, I hope my story will help you  understand why it is hard to get them to read information that exposes NXIVM as a cult.
NXIVM was abusive to me
A  big issue with people on the “inside” is the conditioning that takes place when one “joins the mission”.  There is ‘grooming’ of one’s thoughts, beliefs and behavior. This happened to me through classes I took, and “feedback” from the leadership circle.
I found the “mind bending” to be a slow process. When I questioned anything, there were people “sent” to deal with me.
Keith once said to me I was the most controversial member of NXIVM. I ran the center in Tacoma and did not tow the NXIVM line.

There are promises made when you join ‘the mission’ of being more successful in the world. I believe the leadership of NXIVM is skilled at finding one’s Achilles heel.
Mine was a desire to help people be more successful in business.

There was either praise and reward, or taking away of things and punishment. How they choose what works best to bring people into line is beyond me. Whatever they do, it worked on me, for years. I was on the hot seat for years for not towing the line.
If I was treated better, or rather “set up” better, I might not have confronted Keith about his sexual behavior and student’s money he lost [Barbara Bouchey, Susan and seven other women met with Keith for three days in April 2009 to determine if they should remain in NXIVM after revelations emerged that Keith had a harem and lost millions of students’ money in bad investments and gambling].
I believe most people within NXIVM are not open to getting outside information. I believe it’s part of the conditioning that takes place. People are convinced Keith is the world’s smartest man, without really investigating “The Fruit On His Tree”.
There is an entire group supporting that belief within NXIVM who ‘giveth and taketh away’ based on your questions and reactions. You are sold this with the promise of getting what you are looking for. For those of us who “bought it”,  you either toe the line or deal with repercussions.

I believed what I was told by Nancy Salzman and upper leadership about people.
Toni Natalie:
I was told by Nancy Salzman, she “loaned” Toni $80,000 and  Toni did not repay her after she left Keith. I was told by upper leaders (some who never met Toni) that Toni was a suppressive and a thief.

It wasn’t until after I left that I found that Keith, Nancy and others kept Toni in bankruptcy hell for over eight years. If one reads the court documents of Toni, Joe O’Hara and Barbara Bouchey, you will see a pattern of using the legal system to bully people. This pattern follows in the Rick Ross and Precision Development lawsuits.
Joe O’Hara

I was told by Nancy Salzman that Joe O’Hara was a criminal and had stolen money from a foundation of NXIVM’s. I didn’t know Joe, so I believed it, without any other “data” about him. After leaving, I found this was a lie.
I was told by Nancy that Barbara Bouchey was ‘suppressive’ and ‘crazy’.
Now I know what it’s like to be one of those people sticking your neck out, talking about things that were not in the best interest of NXVIM. Barbara was trying to change things within NXIVM.  She wasn’t suppressive or crazy.

There was a time when Keith was not talking to Barbara and the question that was “out in the community” was: “What do you think Barbara did that was so bad even Keith won’t talk to her?”
I found later that Barbara had broken off her sexual relationship with Keith and he stopped talking to her. Due to the code of silence the inner circle adopted about Keith’s sexual behavior, Barbara was caught between a rock and a hard place. She could not come forward to explain why Keith stopped talking to her.
Most people wouldn’t ask her due to their conditioning. The leadership knew Barbara would not break the secret code of silence about Keith’s sexual behavior. They passed around this “question” to discredit Barbara as preemptive damage control, in case she left NXIVM.

 I was told I was suppressive
I was told by Nancy that she and Keith “hypothesized” I was a full suppressive who most likely had taken “the fall”. (Psychopath is what she was saying.)
This was followed by other leaders coming to give me “feedback” about anything I said: ‘You know you’re working on your issues of suppression; you want to get better don’t you?”, the wolf pack would descend and ask.
The leadership planted seeds about me being “suppressive”. It grew like wildfire within the NXIVM community. It was strategic. If I left, it was because I was “suppressive” so why would anyone in the community believe anything I had to say?
If I stayed and changed my ways, it was the tech that “cured her”. Hence, more damage control and conditioning for others who ask too many questions and make waves.

This went on for years. The longer it went on, the more people heard the “story” of me being suppressive and more people believed it to be true.
If I got angry, or put my foot down, or questioned someone authority? It was used to validate the ‘Susan is suppressive story’.

Most non-NXVIM members would tell someone to “frack off,” if these things were happening to them. But until you’re in it, it’s hard to understand. People don’t understand why a woman will stay with an abusive husband, as he takes away her self-esteem. 

Due to the conditioning and trust put into Keith, when I questioned something, Nancy and the leaders exposed me to this “wolf pack type of feedback” and I began to question myself. It’s a classic abuse/abusers conditioning. This is why so many of us went to training, after training, paying thousands of dollars to try to help ourselves. We believed the lies we were told about ourselves.

I don’t know where the lies start.
Is it with Keith who has been conditioning his woman followers since before Consumers’ Buy Line days?
Did Keith condition Nancy and now she helps him, or was she this way when she started to work with him? When one of the leaders falls from grace and is not towing the line, I have seen them getting “wolf pack feedback”.

Due to the “fog” we cannot see what non-NXIVM people see. The training has ways of putting in “Double Binds” (Here) that can be used by the leadership against someone to get them back in line. The ones who toe the line the most, are the ones that stay the longest. If you question contradictions, the “wolf feedback pack” comes after you.
Many left due to the “wolf pack”, but remain quiet because they fear the wolf pack or a lawsuit.

It isn’t until you can see through the fog (usually with a date with reality) that one can see what’s happening. My date was the meetings that took place with the NXIVM 9 and its three days of meeting with Keith to confront him with our concerns. The veil of fog lifted and I saw NXIMV was not what I thought it was.
To stay, regardless of what I liked about the training, or my love for some of the members, was not worth what I had to give up within myself.

I hope this is helpful for family or friends who still have loved ones inside NXIVM.
I hope it might help someone inside NXIVM who is beginning to question.
It might bring me into the lawsuits that NXIVM is famous for; the fruit on Keith’s tree.

About the author

Frank Parlato

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Please leave a comment: Your opinion is important to us!

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

I just learned about this, as I would call it, another cult. Why are people so weak that they cannot read between the lines. For those people that are involved wake up, this is someone you do not want to be around. Get out while you can, otherwise there will be a day that it will all be over and Master more like Asshole Rainier will have to dispose of everyone and we don’t want to see another Jim Jones massacre. So who ever reads this and is a part of this, go back home or be with close ones (and not close ones from the so called organization), there are loved ones hurting and want your safety so leave and go back home, they are waiting for your return. Good Luck to all.

6 years ago

I wish I had read this in 2010.

6 years ago

As Susan says, all abusers use the same tactics to manipulate those they are abusing. (I actually submitted a post here on the topic of abuse, and my post was mysteriously removed a few hours later)….Censorship is another way to control people…
*Frank did NOT remove my post, as i asked him.

Anonymous, I hope you are right, and it will be soon..but I get the feeling that NXIVM has many tentacles that reach further than we all realize.

6 years ago

Thank you Susan, Just to let you know.. I will see this organization go down from my very first row seat in here… things are crumbling down little by little as more info is read and people are defending it more than ever.. ta da..!

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x