A former Dynasty star is speaking out in hopes of raising awareness of a cult that has allegedly brainwashed her adult daughter.
Last week, the New York Times released a report on Nxivm, a self-help group that many say is really a cult led by 57-year-old Keith Raniere, who allegedly manipulates and has sex with his followers.
In the story, Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg revealed that her 26-year-old daughter India was a member and had become emaciated due to the group's stringent diet for women.
On Wednesday, she sat down with People magazine to reveal how her daughter got involved in the group in the first place and the secret sorority within Nxivm that left her daughter branded with Raniere's initials.
Oxenberg says it was her idea to attend one of Nxivm's self-help classes with her daughter in 2011, as a way to bond, after hearing positive things from a friend.
From the start, Oxenberg says she found the group 'weird and creepy', but her daughter liked it and got more involved.
Founded nearly 20 years ago by Raniere, an estimated 16,000 people have paid to take Nxivm's Executive Success Programs over the years - 'programs that provide the philosophical and practical foundation necessary to acquire and build the skills for success,' according to their website.
Oxenberg says that soon her daughter was recruiting friends and spending all of her money taking more and more classes.
At first, Oxenberg tried to resist interfering with her child's life, and didn't speak up last year when she moved to Albany, New York to be closer to the group.
But she had a change of heart last April, when she spoke to 34-year-old Bonnie Piesse, who had recently left the group.
Piesse told Oxenberg that her daughter had joined a 'secret sisterhood' within the group which practically starves its members and brands them with Raniere's initials in a candlelit initiation ceremony.
'You need to save your daughter,' Piesse told her. 'You need to save India.'
So Oxenberg called her daughter up and invited her to come home for her birthday.
On the phone call, Oxenberg said her daughter told her that her hair had been falling out and she hadn't had a period in a year, signs of malnutrition.
When she came home Oxenberg says she was shocked to see how 'super skinny' her daughter had got and begged for her to quit.
But India maintained that the group was good for her and left for Albany the next day. Since then she has stopped communicating with her mom.
Last week, India took to Facebook to assure friends and family that she was fine.
'I'm absolutely fine, great actually. I would never put myself or the people I love into any danger,' she wrote.
But Oxenberg doesn't buy it.
She's now speaking out in hopes of finding a way to get her daughter back.
'I'm helpless. I've lost my child and will do whatever I can to get her back.'
She added to Radar that she doesn't understand why the cult hasn't been brought down yet.
'I don’t understand how law enforcement has turned a blind to this for so long. It’s terrible,' she said.
Oxenberg is a mother of three daughters. India's father has never been publicly identified. Catherine two younger children are with her now husband Casper Van Diem, who she married in 1999.
Oxenberg is also royalty - a daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia.
The New York Times article last week prompted the New York governor's office to conduct a review of complaints against Nxivm.
The Times story said several former Nxivm members described the painful initiation into a secret sisterhood within the self-help group.
A woman who recently quit the group, Sarah Edmonson, said that women in the sisterhood were not allowed to eat more than 800 calories a day, so they could maintain a physique attractive to Raniere.
Edmonson said that the group was pitched to her as a way women could overcome weaknesses that Raniere believed plagued the fairer sex - such as being overemotional, untrustworthy and identifying as a victim.
But when she started the recruitment process it turned out to be a nightmare.
Edmonson was given a 'master' who she had to obey as a 'slave', including texting them in the morning 'Morning M' and at night 'Goodnight M'.
When it came time for the candlelit initiation, she was told that she would be getting a small tattoo.
But after disrobing and laying town on a table, she was restrained and then branded with a 2-inch-wide (5-centimeter-wide) symbol including Nxivm founder Keith Raniere's initials.
She said the whole process took 20 to 30 minutes.
'I wept the whole time,' Edmondson recalled. 'I disassociated out of my body.'
Edmondson said group members were sworn into secrecy. Part of the reason they have stayed quiet, she says, is because they were made to submit embarrassing information about themselves in order to get into the group.
Eventually, she bucked up the courage and decided to leave the group.
Nxivm posted a statement on its website saying a media outlet had incorrectly linked it to a 'social group.' It called the allegations 'lies' and 'a criminal product of criminal minds.'
In an investigative story by the Albany Times Union in 2012, critics described Nxivm as a multilevel marketing business and Raniere as a cult leader who has drawn more than 10,000 followers to his self-improvement philosophy.
The New York Times said Raniere and other Nxivmofficials didn't respond to repeated requests for comment.
NXIVM's website says its mission is to 'help transform and, ultimately, be an expression of the noble civilization of humans.'
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