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.
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.
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.
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.
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 featured prominently on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and acted as lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” He was credited in the Starz docuseries, 'Seduced,' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.
Parlato has 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, which was ironic since many credit Parlato as being one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.