This guest view began as a comment in Alanzo: India Should Stop Using Self-Destructive Tropes Such as ‘I was BRAINWASHED’ or ‘I was being GROOMED’ and Find Answers to What Happened to Her Without Excess Emotion or Cognitive Distortion
This guest view is written as if it were written by India and purports to be an alternative to the “brainwashed and groomed” narrative of the entirely helpless victim.
By No Name [writing as if she were India Oxenberg]
I think an objective view of what happened to India Oxenberg would include a more holistic view of events. Something like:
I was conned by people because I trusted the wrong people and didn’t do any independent research into NXIVM. Of course, any research would have been somewhat hindered by Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman lying about their qualifications, hacking and spying on critics, and engaging in unwarranted litigation.
Of course I was hearing what I wanted to hear, that they could help me reach my goals, and seemed to be successful early on so I didn’t want to ask a lot of questions. If I had looked into any MLMs, I would have known that very few people ever succeed inside that model but those who don’t are blamed for it.
I also could have found out that types of therapy that NXIVM was using worked better for certain issues and on certain people than others so expecting it to work on everything for everyone was unrealistic.
Then when I was at a particularly low point I was approached by Allison Mack who convinced me against my better judgement to enter into a master-slave relationship where I needed to continuously provide the material necessary to blackmail me into following commands.
Some of those commands were naked pictures, moving to Albany, seducing Keith, an extremely restrictive diet that led to health problems and limited cognitive function, and recruiting slaves of my own.
I wanted to believe that Allison and Keith were good and this was all to help me reach my goals, so I ignored anything that went against that.
Of course not being able to discuss what was happening with anyone outside DOS helped keep me from questioning what was going on. Eventually some DOS members and others went to the press and the authorities. At this point when I could have given a lot of NXIVM members information they needed to decide what to do, I lied and I watched as others lied about Keith’s involvement in DOS and the seduction assignments.
Then Keith and the others were arrested and I got to read the evidence which contained a lot of information that I did not know at the time. Over time I began to question if Keith and Allison were actually good or were actually harming people and realized I had participated in harming people myself.
Rather than continue to lie about it, I decided to start telling the truth and provided evidence to the government. Eventually I came to see that I was a prime target for this manipulation because I had enough money to pay for multiple courses, I was a young, attractive woman who fit Keith’s type, and I wanted to believe that I was part of a special sect that was going to save the world by following Keith rather than live in the real world and deal with the mundane day to day grind.
I also recognize that others were even more vulnerable because of their age, immigration status, and indebtedness to NXIVM.
I think it is possible for India and others to acknowledge what made them vulnerable to this and the poor decisions they made without pretending that NXIVM and DOS weren’t engaged in criminality and deception.
And as much as India has not fully accepted responsibility for everything she has done, she has accepted a lot more of it than someone like Nicki Clyne.