Max Boland

Chances are if you own a smartphone, you’ve seen or heard something about the NXIVM “self-help” program. Many are calling NXIVM a cult, as their leader Keith Raniere stands trial for sex trafficking and conspiracy, among other charges. But, what really makes a cult?

By definition, a cult is, “a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.”

Posing as a self-help organization, NXIVM forced female members to be branded with an image resembling the initials “KR”, as well as giving the creator, Raniere, incriminating information and inappropriate photographs for collateral. The group is based out of Albany, New York, and its members follow a strict self-help curriculum claiming to help its members reach higher ranks and become more successful. In reality, the subgroup DOS (that stands for a phrase roughly translated from Latin as “lord over the obedient female companions”) formed to perform sexual favors for Raniere and give him total control over their lives, including calorie intake. The level of sexual servitude extends far beyond voluntary members, as Jane Doe 4 was an illegal immigrant kept under threats of deportation.

The whistleblower on NXIVM is Mark Vicente, a decade-long member who began to notice the women’s near translucent skin and “skeletal” bodies. Raniere’s second in command, Smallville actress Allison Mack, has plead guilty to racketeering conspiracy, as she admits to recruiting women into DOS and collecting collateral so that the women would continue to perform sexual favors for Raniere.

Raniere and Mack could each face 15+ years in prison for the charges.

Junior Riley Elswick comments,”That’s some weird stan culture.”