U.S. Markets open in 2 hrs 46 mins

Former cult member details brutal initiation at Allison Mack’s house

On Cults and Extreme Belief: NXIVM, former member Sarah Edmondson described the painful way she and other women were initiated into a subset of the cult at former Smallville actress Allison Mack’s home. The offshoot Edmondson was joining was called Dominus Obsequious Sororium (D.O.S.) and was sold as a female mentorship program, but roughly translated English, the name means “master over the slave women.” Edmondson thought that to join she and the others would be getting small tattoos. It wasn’t until the ceremony began that she realized they were going to be branded in what turned out to be a long and painful process.

“I think when people think branding, they think there's a stamp. And then there's just going to be a metal thing that goes like this (does a pressing motion) on your flesh. And it sears your flesh, and you take it away,” Edmondson said. “I don't think people can imagine what it's like to have your skin seared open by a hot cauterizing iron for 40 or 45 minutes. It was the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt in my life.”

Edmondson and her husband left NXIVM soon after the branding, but they will always have the reminder of its leader, Keith Raniere, and Mack. Edmondson eventually noticed that the symbol she was branded with incorporated both Raniere’s and Mack’s initials.

Soon after leaving NXIVM, Edmondson became aware of sexual abuse going on within the organization and took her story to the authorities. Both Raniere and Mack have been charged with multiple offenses.