How NXIVM's Sex-Cult Sorority Started as an Anti-Trump Group - 2020-08-26
"This is like Scientology. It's a cult where the leader is keeping people through fear and dependency and now, blackmail," offers Sarah Edmondson in The Vow.
Edmondson, 43, is one of several former members of NXIVM, the Albany-based sex cult masquerading as a self-help group, whose testimony illuminates HBO's nine-part docuseries. Before serving as a whistleblower, she was indoctrinated into the secretive NXIVM sect DOS, standing for "Dominus Obsequious Sororium"—a Latin phrase cult leader Keith Raniere thought translated into "Master Over Slave Women" (it does not).
DOS billed itself as an all-women sorority and operated as a pyramid scheme of abuse, wherein a "Master" would exert mind/body control over a number of "Slaves," including regulating their food intake (no more than 500 calories a day for some), requiring approval of their comings and goings, and forcing them to submit nude photos and other compromising information as "collateral." But unbeknownst to most of the initiated, the person at the top of this predatory pyramid was Raniere, who had eight first-line "Slaves" doing his bidding. One of these first-line "Slaves" was Lauren Salzman, the daughter of NXIVM's second-in-command, Nancy Salzman. It was Lauren Salzman who recruited Sarah Edmondson into DOS.