A self-improvement organization for the elite masking sexual exploitation and control.

Founder: Keith Raniere
Founded: 1998
Ended: 2018
Location: United States (originally Albany, New York)
Other Names: Executive Success Programs (ESP)

NXIVM, initially marketed as a self-help organization, emerged in the early 2000s with a range of programs promising personal and professional development. Founded by Keith Raniere, NXIVM attracted attention for its seminars, workshops, and mentorship programs, gaining popularity in Hollywood and business circles. However, beneath its surface of empowerment and growth, NXIVM harbored a dark reality of manipulation, control, and criminal activities led by Raniere and his close associates, including actress Allison Mack.

The organization, based in Clifton Park, New York, and with chapters across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, employed a pyramid scheme structure for its course offerings, which were priced in the thousands. Members, or “Nxians,” were encouraged to recruit more participants and ascend the organizational hierarchy, which promised further personal enlightenment and opportunities. Raniere, who positioned himself at the apex of this structure, cultivated an environment of secrecy and loyalty that obscured the group’s exploitative practices.

In 2015, Raniere established a secretive faction within NXIVM known as DOS (“Dominus Obsequious Sororium” or “The Vow”), presenting it as a women’s empowerment group. However, DOS operated on a master-slave dynamic, with women at the lower tiers subjected to forced labor, sexual exploitation, and physical branding—a procedure that etched Raniere’s initials onto their bodies. Members were coerced into providing damaging personal “collateral” to ensure their compliance and silence. This manipulation extended to sexual exploitation, where women were forced into sexual acts with Raniere, under threat of their collateral being released.

The organization’s criminal activities eventually led to legal action, culminating in Raniere’s arrest and subsequent 120-year prison sentence in 2020 for sex trafficking among other charges. Allison Mack, one of the top recruiters and a key figure in DOS, was arrested and faced charges of sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy, illustrating the extent of the leadership’s involvement in the group’s exploitative practices.

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