On the outside, NXIVM looked like any other self-help group.
Pronounced “nexium”, the group, which marketed itself as “a new ethical understanding that allows us to build an internal civilisation and have it manifest in the external world,” often enticed the wealthy, famous and elite of New York City.
Led by charismatic self-help guru Keith Raniere, the multi-level marketing company, which was founded in 1998, promised to empower women in their 30s and 40s.
But on the inside, the reality was much different.
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Although NXIVM was widely described as a “pyramid scheme” and “expensive brainwashing” over the years, it wasn’t until 2017 that the group’s true sinister side was exposed.
While most participants just attended brief workshops, others were drawn deeper into the company as they left their families and lives to follow Raniere, who they were told to call “Vanguard”.
Canadian actress Sarah Edmondson was one of the thousands of women who eagerly agreed to join NXIVM.
She was also one of the many women who was exposed to the DOS, a “secret sisterhood” within NXIVM.
Lauren Salzman, who was described as a “rock star within the company”, had asked Edmondson to join the secret faction of NXIVM – and she eagerly agreed.
But just months later, Edmondson found herself sitting in a room with four other women, handing over “naked photographs or other compromising material” to be used as collateral if anyone exposed private information about the group.
Smallville actress Allison Mack was reportedly second-in-charge within the DOS.