Before getting to an insightful, warm hearted piece on Damon Brink by Shivani, I want to share a communication I received from Sally Brink yesterday. She is the wife of Damon Brink.
In her sentencing statement at Clare Bronfman’s hearing, Sally said there were some who turned their backs on her after she got cancer.She said, “[H]ere I am involved in this [Nxivm] community that I really believed in and now some of the higher ranks were telling people not to help me [when she had cancer]. This community, a lot of the higher ranks, they turned their back on me. I was shunned for being sick. The deep emotional pain that you and many others were not my friend and did not love or care about me still resonates with me today.”
This is extremely interesting because here is a marriage that has had some challenges. Sally was first into Nxivm and her husband came in too and seems to have became more enthused than she was. They moved from Vermont to Albany to join the Nxivm community.
When, years later, Sally and Damon left, it was Sally who was disenchanted. Later, she turned against Raniere, providing evidence that helped convict him.
Keep in mind that Sally was doing this before the New York Times story came out and when only Frank Report was publishing anything on Nxivm. And Raniere and Bronfman were not feeling much danger.
Meantime, Mark Vicente, Catherine Oxenberg, myself and others were trying to persuade law enforcement to look at potential crimes. The original dossier that I wrote became a blueprint of Nxivm-related criminal charges and included substantial information provided by Sally.
[One more word, that is slightly off-topic. Mark Vicente was zealous about protecting every one who provided information. Sometimes it was so extreme that there was danger that very damaging information would be lost in his desire to protect anonymity. The point of tension was that sometimes in order for something to have credibility it needed a verifiable source. In the end, however, it worked out pretty well.]
After the convictions, Sally made victim impact statements that were used in support of the prosecution’s sentencing recommendations for both Clare Bronfman and Keith Raniere.
Meantime, Damon remained loyal to Nxivm, to the organization he helped to found, the Society of Protectors, and to Raniere himself. He offered a letter in support for leniency for Keith Raniere to Judge Nicholas Garaufis. He tried to get media attention on what he believed was wrongful methods used by the prosecution.
Then just recently Damon broke with his fellow SOP members. It was not acrimonious but he has left them.
Interestingly, Damon and Sally, though diametrically opposed on what had been a giant part of their lives, were both acting on principle.
Sally in providing evidence, even before their was a law enforcement investigation and coming out publicly at the sentencing hearing of Clare Bronfman and Damon in continuing to support Raniere despite the fact that taking such a position makes one a pariah, as it has in his Vermont community.
The fact that the couple can remain together and raise their children is perhaps strong evidence of good character. And is one of the reasons I went on record stating that Damon Brink should not lose his job nor should people feel he is a danger because he was once in Nxivm: He has a wife and is raising children and if they could remain a family despite their disagreement on Raniere, he is likely a good family man, a good father. Consider, if he were not he would have left his wife for Nxivm, shunned her long ago. He stuck with her through her cancer and through her disagreement with something he had made a major cornerstone of his life.
There was a time when she first wanted out and he wanted to stay that he could have left her and been welcomed by Raniere. And there was a time just recently when he was interviewed – after losing his job and now facing publicity that he was a Nxivm pariah – when he could have denounced Raniere and joined the ranks of victims. He chose to express his doubts, and admit that he was still self reflecting. The easy approach would have been to say — I was brainwashed. I am a victim. I know better now – and he would have been forgiven. Instead he said, I don’t know better. I may have been brainwashed. I am not claiming I am a victim but I am also no longer a follower.
That candor strikes me as honest and brave and the harder path to take for a man in a community where now everybody knows he was once in a “cult.”
The above, all of it, is my evidence that he is not threat to children. He chose to stay with his own children and wife, over Raniere, stuck with what he believed in, and now that he has doubts, admits it without taking the easy road of proclaiming he is a victim.
So I told Paul Heintz for Seven Days, and was quoted in his story, ‘Maybe I’m Brainwashed’: How the NXIVM Cult Followed Damon Brink to Vermont, “I do not think Damon Brink is a threat to any children whatsoever. Just the opposite. I think he’s probably a good kind of role model for kids. He might be brainwashed about Keith. He might be blind to Keith’s scenario. But he’s no threat to children.”
I stand by that statement.
Now, in response to my recent report on Damon Brink, Shivani offers her perspective.
It sounds as though Damon Brink is going through his own processing and is and will continue to be willing to examine his beliefs and thoughts and to ride out his changes his way, the best he can. Don’t shut him down as he does his work upon his own perceptions. That is the opposite of being helpful.
What is it? Twisted swords, unawares? Twisted swords brandished by the Faultless? How original. Ker-plunk. Which is it? Violins or barfbags? People are still funny, huh.
Nevertheless, the Brink fellow is in the process of getting a perhaps more realistic grip on himself and is facing the lies and deceptions which he used to find not only true but sacrosanct. These are stages of adapting one’s perspective, perceptions. It isn’t necessarily going to be easy. This is for Damon to find his way. Why divide him further away from being someone who is looking hard at himself? He does not need rejection. Nobody does. Give what you wish would be given to you. Maybe say, “welcome back” and yes, somewhat cautiously. Be part of the cure rather than fomenting about the dis-ease.
Give him a chance to breathe. You would want and need the same, if in his shoes. He has not been expelled from being human. Nobody here on earth has that right, to expel him. Examine the self and its motivations instead, and take as long as it takes to examine the basis of one’s own thoughts and/or judgments.
Some get off on feeling false superiority by cutting off the heads of others, dreaming that this cold-heartedness makes them look taller, stronger and more nauseatingly “noble.” Dance on. That is a misstep, from what I can see so far.
This talkative, small bitch (my “I”) is still better off as a lovebug, and one ready to learn. A swallowtail’s metamorphosis can be destroyed by a few stupid, impatient slaps. Or by just one big snappy mouth, harm can be done and continued, so hypocritically.
Damon and his family would be welcome at our house and with no shame. Welcomed. Let him be. For the love of God. He isn’t still talking out of his rear end like poor old Clare Bronfman blabbing about Raniere’s wonderfulness and all of the advancement that the chubby perv-boy wanted to donate to the rest of us.
Trust that Damon Brink is undergoing his own sincere self-examination. He is, and he has been trying so hard. Who can miss this?
Maybe bless his heart. Stop freaking and bellowing at a man who is already at least halfway out of the pits of his own hell. Why not?
I wish him the best. What if he were your prodigal son? Chances are you’d be reluctant to reject him as he works on himself.
Damon is living close-by to where I went to college, and Vermont’s nature alone can be so incredibly, magically healing and inspiring. Not joking! There is nothing like the outdoors for getting back in touch with one’s essence, for mending all worldly frailties. I have a feeling Damon is going to mend and that he still has a lot to give. My bet is on him succeeding, especially with Sally by his side. Wow!
That isn’t just optimism. Sincerely, bless their hearts and bless them and their children. Damon? He is gonna do this. Yes. He is doing it now. Peace is returning and Damon Brink can be the wiser for it, for the rest of his days.