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逃离“邪教”:在秘密姐妹会里被打上烙印的女子

更新时间:2017-10-19 11:58:14 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded
逃离“邪教”:在秘密姐妹会里被打上烙印的女子

ALBANY, N.Y. — Last March, five women gathered in a home near here to enter a secret sisterhood they were told was created to empower women.

纽约州奥尔巴尼——今年3月,五名女子为了加入一个秘密姐妹会,聚集在附近的一处住宅。她们被告知,该组织是为了女性赋权而设立的。

To gain admission, they were required to give their recruiter — or “master,” as she was called — naked photographs or other compromising material and were warned that such “collateral” might be publicly released if the group’s existence were disclosed.

为了入会,她们被要求向招募者,也就是被称作“主人”的那名女子提供裸照或其他有损声誉的材料,并警告她们,如果该组织的存在被泄露出去,这些“抵押物”就可能会公开。

The women, in their 30s and 40s, belonged to a self-help organization called Nxivm, which is based in Albany and has chapters across the country, Canada and Mexico.

这些三四十岁的女子属于一个名为Nxivm的自助组织。该组织总部设在奥尔巴尼,在全美各地、加拿大和墨西哥设有分部。

Sarah Edmondson, one of the participants, said she had been told she would get a small tattoo as part of the initiation. But she was not prepared for what came next.

其中一名参与者萨拉·埃德蒙森(Sarah Edmondson)说,有人告诉她,作为入会仪式的一部分,她要纹一个小的纹身图案。但接下来的事情让她始料未及。

Each woman was told to undress and lie on a massage table, while three others restrained her legs and shoulders. According to one of them, their “master,” a top Nxivm official named Lauren Salzman, instructed them to say: “Master, please brand me, it would be an honor.”

每人都被要求脱去衣服,在按摩床上躺下,另有三人按住她的腿和肩膀。据其中一位当事人说,她们的“主人”,一个名叫劳伦·萨尔兹曼(Lauren Salzman)的Nxivm高层头目吩咐她们说:“主人,请给我打上烙印,这是我的荣幸。”

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. For hours, muffled screams and the smell of burning tissue filled the room.

接下来,一名女医生用一种烙烫工具在每名女子的髋骨下方烙上一个2英寸(约合5厘米)见方的符号。这个过程要花20到30分钟。几个小时里,那个房间里充斥着压抑的尖叫声和人肉烧焦的味道。

“I wept the whole time,” Edmondson recalled. “I disassociated out of my body.”

“我全程都在哭,”埃德蒙森回忆说。“身体好像都不是我的了。”

Since the late 1990s, an estimated 16,000 people have enrolled in courses offered by Nxivm (pronounced Nex-e-um), which it says are designed to bring about greater self-fulfillment by eliminating psychological and emotional barriers. Most participants take some workshops, like the group’s “Executive Success Programs,” and resume their lives. But other people have become drawn more deeply into Nxivm, giving up careers, friends and families to become followers of its leader, Keith Raniere, who is known within the group as “Vanguard.”

自90年代末以来,估计有1.6万人参加了Nxivm开设的课程。该组织称,设计相关课程的目的是通过消除心理和情感障碍,促进更好的自我实现。大部分参与者参加了一些研讨班,比如该组织的“高管成功项目”(Executive Success Programs),然后继续自己的生活。但其他一些人被Nxivm进一步吸引,放弃自己的事业、朋友和家庭,成为其领袖基思·拉尼埃(Keith Raniere)的追随者。在该组织内部,拉尼埃被称作“先锋”。

Both Nxivm and Raniere, 57, have long attracted controversy. Former members have depicted him as a man who manipulated his adherents, had sex with them and urged women to follow near-starvation diets to achieve the type of physique he found appealing.

该组织和现年57岁的拉尼埃长期争议不断。前成员称拉尼埃操纵追随者,与她们发生关系并呼吁女性遵守近乎挨饿的饮食,以获得他认为有吸引力的那种体型。

Now, as talk about the secret sisterhood and branding has circulated within Nxivm, scores of members are leaving. Interviews with a dozen of them portray a group spinning more deeply into disturbing practices. Many members said they feared that confessions about indiscretions would be used to blackmail them.

现在,随着有关这个秘密姐妹会和打烙印一事的讨论在Nxivm内部流传,数十名成员打算离开。对其中十几人进行的采访,勾勒出了一个在令人不安的行为中越陷越深的组织。很多成员担心,对不当行为的忏悔会被用来敲诈他们。

Mark Vicente, a filmmaker and former top Nxivm official, said that after hearing about the secret society, he confronted Raniere.

曾在Nxivm担任高层的电影工作者马克·维森特(Mark Vicente)说,听说该秘密社团后,他找过拉尼埃。

“I said ‘whatever you are doing, you are heading for a blowup,'” Vicente said.

“我说,‘不管你在做什么,你这是在走向悬崖,’”维森特说。

Several former members have asked state authorities to investigate the group’s practices, but officials have declined to pursue action.

多名前成员要求国家机关调查该组织的行为,但官方拒绝采取行动。

In July, Edmondson filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Health against Danielle Roberts, a licensed osteopath and follower of Raniere, who performed the branding, according to Edmondson and another woman. In a letter, the agency said it would not look into Roberts because she was not acting as Edmondson’s doctor when the branding is said to have happened.

今年7月,埃德蒙森向纽约州卫生署投诉了拉尼埃的追随者、执业骨疗师丹妮尔·罗伯茨(Danielle Roberts),据埃德蒙森和另一名女性说,给其身体打上烙印的就是罗伯茨。纽约州卫生署在一封信函中表示,它不会调查罗伯茨,因为在据称的打烙印过程中,她并不是以埃德蒙森的医师的身份行事。

Separately, a state police investigator told Edmondson and two other women that officials would not pursue their criminal complaint against Nxivm because their actions had been consensual, a text message shows.

另外,一则短信显示,纽约州警方的一名调查人员告诉埃德蒙森以及另外两名女性,官员们不会就她们对Nxivm提起的刑事指控展开行动,因为相关行为征得了她们的同意。

State medical regulators also declined to act on a complaint filed against another Nxivm-affilated physician, Brandon Porter. Porter, as part of an “experiment,” showed women graphically violent film clips while a brain-wave machine and video camera recorded their reactions, according to two women who took part.

纽约州的医疗监管者还拒绝就另一名隶属于Nxivm的医师布兰登·波特(Brandon Porter)受到的投诉采取行动。据参与一场“实验”的两名女性称,实验过程中,波特曾为女会员播放极其暴力的电影片段,会员的反应则由脑波机和摄像机记录下来。

The women said they were not warned that some of the clips were violent, including footage of four women being murdered and dismembered.

这两名女性称,她们事先未被警告一些片段很暴力,其中包括四个女人被谋杀和分尸的镜头。

“Please look into this ASAP,” a former Nxivm member, Jennifer Kobelt, stated in her complaint. “This man needs to be stopped.”

“请尽快调查此事,”Nxivm前成员珍妮弗·考贝尔特(Jennifer Kobelt)在投诉函中表示。“必须阻止这个男人。”

In September, regulators told Kobelt they concluded that the allegations against Porter did not meet the agency’s definition of “medical misconduct,” their letter shows.

监管人员发出的信函显示,他们于9月份告知考贝尔特,他们认为针对波特的指控不符合该机构对“医疗过失”的定义。

Raniere and other top Nxivm officials, including Lauren Salzman, did not respond to repeated emails, letters or text messages seeking comment. Roberts and Porter also did not respond to inquiries.

拉尼埃以及Nxivm的其他高层管理者,其中包括劳伦·萨尔茨曼,未回应寻求置评的多封电子邮件、信函和短信。罗伯茨和波特亦未回应置评请求。

Former members said that, inside Nxivm, they are being portrayed as defectors who want to destroy the group.

前成员称自己在Nxivm内部被描绘为想要破坏该团体的叛徒。

In May, Sarah Edmondson began to recoil from her embrace of the secret society.

今年5月,莎拉·埃德蒙森开始不再认同秘密组织。

Her husband, Anthony Ames, who was also a Nxivm member, learned about her branding and the couple both wanted out.

她的丈夫、当时与她同为Nxivm成员的安东尼·阿姆斯(Anthony Ames),得知了她被打烙印的事,夫妇俩决定退出。

Before quitting, Ames went to Nxivm’s offices in Albany to collect money he said the group owed him.

退出前,阿姆斯前往Nxivm位于奥尔巴尼的办公场所,想要拿回他所说的该团体欠他的钱。

He had his cellphone in his pocket and turned on its recorder.

他把手机放在口袋里,并开启了手机的录音功能。

On the recording, Ames tells another member that Edmondson was branded and that other women told him about handing over collateral. “This is criminal,” Ames says.

录音显示,阿姆斯告诉另一名会员:埃德蒙森的身体被打上了烙印,其他一些女性还跟他说了提交“抵押品”的事。“这是犯罪,”阿姆斯说。

The voice of a woman — who Ames said is Lauren Salzman — is heard trying to calm him. “I don’t think you are open to having a conversation,” she said.

录音中的另一个女人——阿姆斯说她是劳伦·萨尔茨曼——试图让他平静下来。“我觉得你不愿意展开对话,”她说。

“You are absolutely right, I’m not open to having a conversation,” he replied. “My wife got branded.”

“你说的太对了,我不愿意展开对话,”他回答。“我妻子被打了烙印。”

A few days later, many of Raniere’s followers learned of the secret society from a website run by a Buffalo-area businessman, Frank R. Parlato Jr. Parlato had been locked in a long legal battle with two sisters, Sara and Clare Bronfman, who are members of Nxivm and the daughters of Edgar Bronfman, the deceased chairman of Seagram Co.

几天后,拉尼埃的很多追随者都在一个网站上看到了关于秘密组织的信息,该网站的运营者是布法罗地区的一名商人,名叫小弗兰克·R·帕拉托(Frank R. Parlato Jr.)。在过去很长一段时间里,帕拉托深陷于与萨拉和克莱尔·布朗夫曼(Sara and Clare Bronfman)的官司之中,她们俩都是Nxivm成员以及施格兰公司(Seagram Co.)已故董事长埃德加·布朗夫曼(Edgar Bronfman)的女儿。

In 2011, the Bronfman sisters sued Parlato, whom they had hired as a consultant, alleging he had defrauded them of $1 million.

2011年,布朗夫曼姊妹状告曾给她们当顾问的帕拉托,说他从她们那里骗走了100万美元。

Four years later, in 2015, the Justice Department indicted him on charges of fraud and other crimes arising from alleged activities, including defrauding the Bronfmans. Parlato has denied the claims and the case is pending.

四年后的2015年,司法部以欺诈罪,及源于据称由帕拉托实施的行为——其中包括欺诈布朗夫曼姊妹——的其他罪名起诉了他。帕拉托否认了上述指控,该案仍在审理中。

Parlato started a website, The Frank Report, which he uses to lambaste prosecutors, Raniere and the Bronfmans. In early June, Parlato published the first in a torrent of salacious posts under the headline, “Branded Slaves and Master Raniere.”

帕拉托建了一个名为弗兰克报道(Frank Report)的网站,用以斥责检方、拉尼埃以及布朗夫曼姊妹。6月初,帕拉托以“被打上烙印的奴隶和主人拉尼埃”为题,发了一大堆不堪入目的帖子。

Nxivm recently filed criminal complaints with the Vancouver police against Edmondson and two other women accusing them of mischief and other crimes in connection with the firm’s now-closed center there, according to Edmondson. The women have denied the allegations. A spokesman for the Vancouver police declined to comment.

埃德蒙森称,最近,Nxivm向温哥华警方对埃德蒙森及另外两名女子提起刑事投诉,指控她们搞破坏,还犯下了与该团体现已被关闭的温哥华活动中心有关的其他罪行。她们否认了这些指控。温哥华警方拒绝置评。

Edmondson and other former followers of Raniere said they were focusing on recovering.

埃德蒙森及拉尼埃的一些前追随者称,他们正专注于自身的恢复。

“There is no playbook for leaving a cult,” she said.

“脱离邪教没有脚本可循,”她说。

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