Survivor of sex cult explains how she avoided being brainwashed by NXIVM


(Banfield) — How did Jessica Joan end up in a place to be taken advantage of by the cult NXIVM and its leader Keith Ranire?

Joan told Adrienne Bankert her desire “to heal” and “elevate” herself after a traumatic childhood led her to taking courses at NXIVM.

“…One of the things that this group did is it attracted really beautiful people that wanted to heal themselves, and also wanted to help other people as well as society,” Joan explained. “And the people that are still stuck in this brainwash, basically, are in a high level state of denial. And I honestly don’t know what they’re going through.”

The NXIVM cult, led by Keith Raniere, charged thousands of dollars for invitation-only self improvement courses at its headquarters near Albany, New York, along with branches in Mexico and Canada. Adherents included millionaires and Hollywood actresses willing to endure humiliation and pledge obedience to the defendant as part of his teachings.

Joan described that while she wasn’t brainwashed by the cult, she did become indocrinated.

“So for me, I didn’t follow the hive mind mentality…my childhood trauma and all the things that I went through, it gave me the wherewithal to handle it in the way that I did, which I didn’t get branded. I didn’t do anything intimate with Keith. And I got out as soon as I realized that it was not what I thought it was,” Joan said.

NXIVM’s so-called women’s only secret society became infamous for its practices including requiring absolute obedience and branding women involved in it.

The unrepentant former leader of the cult-like NXIVM group was ordered to pay $3.5 million to 21 victims of a sex-trafficking scheme, a sum including the cost of surgically removing scars from branding rituals performed by a secret sorority.

“To be honest, there isn’t enough money in the world that would amend you know, the the horrific experience that myself and all the other victims went through. But what he did have to pay is at least something to provide the victims with resources to begin to put their life together,” Joan said.

Raniere — known to members of the upstate New York organization as “Vanguard” and “the smartest man in the world” — was sentenced last year to 120 years in prison for his conviction on racketeering conspiracy and other charges. It was another instance where he refused to take responsibility.

“It’s a long game of indoctrination. They don’t tell you all these things up front, because then it’d be a huge red flag. And so when I did learn that there was something about a brand, it was actually promoted as like a tiny sisterhood tattoo that represented the elements,” Joan said.

Watch the full interview in the player above

The Associated Press Contributed to this report

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