As seen in the HBO docuseries THE VOW: A jaw-dropping insider look into the world of the so-called "Hollywood Sex Cult" NXIVM chronicling the rise of enigmatic cult leader, Keith Raniere, from its "Patient Zero," his former girlfriend and test subject for his coercive control techniques.
Many have heard of NXIVM and its creator, Keith Raniere, the unassuming Albany man now prosecuted for ensnaring tens of thousands of people in the US, Mexico, Canada and elsewhere, to do his bidding and pay millions of dollars to participate in his self-improvement methodology. But where did Keith Raniere begin?
Enter Toni Natalie, Keith's Patient Zero, the first one indoctrinated into Raniere's methodology and the first one to escape. THE PROGRAM begins with the origin story of NXIVM, follows its rise to international prominence, and takes the reader into the downfall of Raniere through Toni's eyes. During this time she bore witness to the evolution of his methodology, including his use of sex, blackmail, and employment of psychological tools such as neuro-linguistic programming to control and punish those who would not heed his wishes. She uniquely details the fortunes lost and the lives left in disarray that she witnessed contemporaneously, including members of DOS, a group of women coerced into sexual acts under the guise of a "women's empowerment" inner circle, whom Raniere exercised extreme control over directly and through his lieutenants.
But far from being a victim's story, in the spirit of Erin Brockovich, Toni's is a nuanced narrative of a multi-dimensional woman saving herself, and then working tirelessly to help other women do the same for themselves. Today, Toni is happy, reunited with her son, and surrounded by friends and family--it is this perspective that makes her such a unique storyteller.