She Thought It Would Be a Tattoo. It Was a Branding

It's called Nxivm, pronounced Nex-e-um, and thousands have gone through its various self-help and executive training seminars since the 1990s. 

As the New York Times explains in a lengthy story about the group, most people take a few classes and leave after that. But others become devoted adherents to the organization and its guru-like founder, 57-year-old Keith Raniere. Now, sensational stories are emerging of a secret sorority within Nxivm in which women must undergo a jarring initiation ceremony. First, they submit compromising photos or similar items as a sign of lifelong loyalty. 

Then comes what has been described as branding. "A female doctor proceeded to use a cauterizing device to sear a two-inch-square symbol below each woman's hip, a procedure that took 20 to 30 minutes," writes Barry Meier after interviews with witnesses.

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