Unspeakable Times

These Women Thought They Were Getting Tattoos, But They Were Actually Being Branded By A Secret Cult

There have been cults of one kind or another for almost as long as there have been people to join them, regardless of their creepy cult practices or however deranged the leader may be. 

Such is the case with Keith Raniere's cult - a cult that brands women as a crude and brutal form of initiation. But when one strips away the veneer of respectability and peeks behind the façade created by its leader, it isn't difficult to see the true foundation upon which Raniere's cult is built. Raniere's cult recruited a sizable number of high profile women, including Smallville star Allison Mack.

Raniere - an enigmatic businessman who began his career in pyramid schemes - started NVIXM (pronounced neks-ee-em) as a personal and professional development network. What followed were allegations of sexual abuse, exploitation, and human branding. 

  • NVIXM Leader Keith Raniere Was Found Guilty Of Sex Trafficking

    According to the Associated PressRaniere was arrested in Mexico on March 26, 2018, and extradited to Texas to appear in court under charges of sex trafficking. In a federal arrest complaint, authorities said Raniere oversaw a "barbaric system" in which women were forced to become slaves as a means to move up within the group. If they tried to escape, Raniere would threaten them with extortion. 

    On Jun 19, 2019, just over a year after his arrest and following Allison Mack's guilty plea, Raniere was found guilty of sex trafficking. Court documents obtained by People allege the conviction includes the claims that both Mack and Raniere kept slaves and lied about the intentions of their organization.

  • A Former Member Described Being Branded In Court

    On Monday, May 20, 2019, former NXIVM member Lauren Salzman, who plead guilty to charges of racketeering and holding a woman captive in April 2019, described her "branding ceremony" in Brooklyn federal court. Salzman recalled being held down by other women enslaved by NXIVM as she begged, "Master, please brand me. It would be an honor. An honor I want to wear for the rest of my life." 

    Salzman explained that the ceremony was conducted with a cauterizing pen and it was quite painful to have Keith Raniere's initials seared onto her. She went on to reveal that Raniere also had plans for an S&M "dungeon," and that he had a system of "paddling" women with a leather strap when they transgressed against him. 

  • One Member Admitted To Holding A Woman Captive 

    In late March 2019, Lauren Salzman, daughter of NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman, plead guilty to racketeering conspiracy and "knowingly and intentionally harbored Jane Doe 4, a woman whose identity is known to [Salzman], in a room in the home in the Northern District of New York." According to court documents published by the New York Post, she confessed that she held the woman from March 2010 and April 2012 and "threatened to deport Jane Doe 4 back to Mexico if she did not complete labor requested by myself and others." 

    Salzman is looking at a sentence of at least 20 years unless she cooperates with authorities in taking down the organization all together. 

  • Two 'Smallville' Stars Got Involved, And One Ended Up Indicted

    Smallville co-stars Kristin Kreuk and Allison Mack signed up for a seminar run by Raniere sometime in the early 2000s and ended up joining NVIXM. Raniere used the women's celebrity status to lure in victims. However, Kreuk left shortly after the allegations surfaced. Mack, on the other hand, remained heavily involved in NVIXM. According to early reports, the branding was actually Mack's idea and she was known as "Pimp Mack" amongst other members. In cellphone footage of cult rituals, Mack can be seen. 

    On April 20, 2018, Mack was officially indicted for sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labor conspiracy. The Justice Department released a statement alleging Mack recruited victims and led the women's group within the cult.