Nicki Clyne, 38, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Chung, 51, Sarasota Florida
Danielle Roberts, 39, Long Island, NY
Dossier Project Press Release – February 22, 2021
Dominus Obsequium Sororum (DOS), which stands for “master, allegiance, sisterhood,” was established in 2015 as a secret sorority designed to unite and empower women. Most of its original members were friends with and mentored by Keith Raniere, the founder of NXIVM.
The Truth About DOS No One Has Heard
How can women learn to be honorable, authentic, and compassionate in a society that values gossip, entertainment, and wealth above all else?
How can women build lasting, meaningful relationships with one another in a culture that promotes competitiveness and distrust amongst women?
These were the questions the women who co-created the formerly secret sorority, known as DOS, sought to answer.
We were driven by curiosity, vision, and a desire to challenge social conventions in exchange for increased self-awareness and self-esteem. DOS, which stands for Dominus Obsequium Sororum (Master, Allegiance, Sisterhood), was an experiment in its infancy. It was new, it was edgy, and it was good.
The eight women in the “first line” of DOS (seven of whom were co-founders) were mentored, yes, by a man, but not by just any man, a man with whom these women had built a combined 100 years of trust, friendship and collaboration.
It is incorrect to believe that we, a group of educated, intelligent, and financially independent women were driven by fear and faulty assumptions, and it is even further absurd to believe we were manipulated by an abusive, power-hungry patriarch. Yet, this is the role society has cast for us: that of hapless, unwitting victims who need to be saved from our own choices. Alternatively, we are seen by the general public as “brainwashed” followers who can’t think for ourselves and who are complicit in heinous crimes. Neither of these views is accurate, but understanding the truth is neither simple nor easy.
The binary narrative of “victim/perpetrator” is uninformed and reductive, and offensive to all the adult women who chose to participate in DOS, even the ones who have retroactively withdrawn their consent. It is also disrespectful to victims of actual crimes like human trafficking, none of whom receive the type of fame and opportunities that the so-called “victims” of DOS have enjoyed. While everyone is entitled to feel how they want about an experience, past or present, we believe that objective reality is still significant, if not essential, when discussing events with such damaging repercussions.
The teachings and practices in the sorority, which have been grossly distorted and misrepresented, helped us become wiser, stronger, more self-reliant women. Ironically, the adversity we’ve experienced as a result of the false narrative has helped us forge the character we set out to build, but not without great cost to our community and loved ones. We have weathered slander, attacks, and governmental threats, yet our commitment to honor the truth as we know it and champion women’s agency remains steadfast.
We have resisted the temptation to blame and claim victimhood, even when it’s been offered with the promise of relief and reward. We understand full well that we risk our reputations, our livelihoods, and, in some cases, our closest relationships. Many of us have already been falsely accused of horrendous things and most people, including the media, don’t question the narrative despite its inconsistencies. Still, we persevere because we value our integrity, honor and, above all, the truth, more than any material reward or security it provides.
The sorority was a secret sisterhood founded in 2015 by seven women in their thirties and forties (the eighth woman in the “first line” joined 1.5 years after its inception). It was guided by a man, Keith Raniere, who dedicated his life’s work to building educational models and companies that inspired ethics, critical thinking, and joyful, purposeful living.
DOS helped women build discipline and strong character through specialized practices in a safe and trusted environment. It was founded on a solemn vow amongst the women who chose to participate, and it sought to empower women to become masters of their own destiny.
We had hoped to create a global network of trustworthy, self-reliant, successful women who lived by their word. Our aim was to support one another through honest feedback, accountability, and building self-awareness around what it truly means to care for another. We sought to bring more compassion for our collective well-being as a society, and promote independent thought rather than blind acceptance of the status quo. The sorority was meant to be exclusive, ever evolving, and secretive, so that it would not be distorted by inaccurate assumptions or suppressed by men.
The commitment to join the sorority was completely voluntary. To the best of our collective knowledge, no one was ever coerced into participating and, if they were, it would have been completely counter to our mission. Inviting someone into DOS and becoming their “master” was a sacred commitment and responsibility, and presented its own unique set of challenges and sacrifices. How do you give a friend honest feedback and hold her accountable without risking the harmony of the relationship? It is difficult. Often when women hold others to a standard, they are perceived as mean, or a “bitch.” Men, on the other hand, are typically considered authoritative and strong. This is one example of a double standard we were attempting to evolve, albeit awkwardly at times, but with the best of intentions.
If a woman in DOS knew someone (typically a close friend) whom she thought would desire and benefit from the type of mentorship offered in DOS, she would first invite this friend to learn about the existence of the sorority. In order to learn about it, she would have to make a commitment of complete confidentiality, backed with some type of collateral. Some women declined this offer and never learned about it.
If a woman did want to learn about it, she would choose something of value to pledge as collateral (this could be material or abstract). The collateral was to leverage the weight of her promise to keep the sorority a secret, but also to emphasize and highlight a mutual trust. In many ways, it was a symbolic gesture, because no one’s collateral was ever released by anyone entrusted with it, despite the confidentiality breaches that later occurred. It was an exchange and commitment of confidence nonetheless.
Some people wish to simply be comfortable in life, and some people are willing to do what it takes to achieve their dreams and do the exceptional. We strove to invite the latter category of women, with the understanding that most people need help somewhere along their journey — whether it’s from a teacher, a coach, a mentor or friend — to push in ways we’re not always apt or equipped to push ourselves.
Considering everything that has happened in the aftermath and because of the exposure of DOS, we now recognize that the difference between what someone says they want and what they are actually willing to do to achieve it may be drastically far apart.
At the time, we took each woman at her word. In hindsight, there should have been more checks and balances to ensure each person understood, wanted to, and had the capacity to uphold the commitment they were making.
If a woman desired to learn about the sorority and backed her promise to keep it confidential with some form of collateral, she would be given a detailed description of DOS, including its mission, purpose, and the subsequent conditions to participate. Then, anyone being invited would choose to participate, or not.
If a woman chose not to join after learning the details, the only thing she had agreed to up until that point was to not discuss the sorority with anyone. Every woman who declined to participate did so without incident or any negative impact on her friendships or ability to pursue or succeed in other endeavors.
The invitation always included a detailed explanation of these four requirements:
Making a vow of obedience: to eliminate the possibility of being able to talk oneself out of their expressed goals and ideals.
Wearing a symbolic piece of jewelry: to signify the commitment, similar to wearing a wedding ring.
Getting a brand: to symbolize permanence, allegiance to one’s sisters and personal ideology, and as a bonding ritual.
Entering into a mentorship relationship using “Master/slave” terminology: as a metaphor for overcoming the enslavement we feel to materialism and a false identity, and the path of challenging those attachments in order to discover one’s true self.
Before a woman joined, she was welcome to ask as many questions for clarification as she needed and take as much time as she wished to make a decision. This was a serious decision and was treated as such by both parties.
If a woman chose to join the sorority upon learning its mission and conditions, she provided more collateral to confirm her commitment, and to begin her journey.
By May 2017, two years after its inception, over 100 women had committed to this path of personal growth, sisterhood, and self-actualization.
Nearly four years ago, a few women decided to break their solemn vows, spread lies about the sorority to the media, and blame the sorority and Keith Raniere for alleged emotional damages. These women claimed they were victimized by a process that was designed to help them have more accountability, self-control, and discretion in their lives — a process they knowingly and proactively embarked upon. Sadly, their actions precisely expose the shortcomings the founding women sought to confront and evolve — both in themselves and in society.
These so-called “whistleblowers” chose to destroy the sorority with the misguided help of powerful men, the mainstream media, a blogger with a personal vendetta against Raniere, (Frank Parlato), and the United States Government. None of these entities sought the truth of the situation and, in fact, threatened and disparaged anyone who attempted to reveal it. The entire media narrative was based on only a couple women’s experiences (representing less than 2% of the women in DOS), and their accounts of their experience in DOS changed dramatically from what they had been expressing and demonstrating for years. The same woman who claims she got the brand “against her will” was actively inviting other women into DOS for months, including after she got the brand. Factors such as family pressure, financial gain, and the threat of prosecution undoubtedly played a role in these 180 degree shifts.
Rather than taking responsibility for their choices and admitting they no longer wanted to pursue the path they once committed themselves to, the women who broke their sacred vows contributed to the dis-empowering societal view of women as children who need to be saved. They also supported and championed a shame campaign against the women who wished to keep their promise and remain honorable about their experience.
There are, however, many women who remain true to the principles and intent behind the sorority, even though it no longer exists, and who had a deep and positive experience. These women still believe in its true purpose and are in full support of DOS. Most women who support the sorority have, so far, remained silent due to the legal threats and extreme media persecution, based on a false and defamatory narrative. Now, as the Dossier Project, eight of us have chosen to share our experiences publicly. Others are in support and helping behind the scenes, but due to the level of harassment and hate, they are choosing to remain anonymous for now.
After years of being misrepresented and attacked in the media, we are excited to finally share our story with the world and set the record straight. We are fully aware that it will be a complex and difficult path, but we are committed to the truth of our experience and fighting for a world where values of integrity, honor and ethics triumph over blame, prejudice, violence, and hate.