By Carol Mead (a former Nxivm student)
I have known Barbara Bouchey for 18 years. I met her through her cousin, Chris Carey, who was a dear friend of mine. In the beginning, I didn’t really relate to Barbara because I wasn’t a self-made millionaire, nor was I being groomed for the inner circle of ESP [Executive Success Programs] as it was known when I took my first intensive.
But what I have seen her go through, what she has told me, what I know personally of some of the players and what I have witnessed through the years is proof enough for me that:
(1) she had only the highest purpose in mind when she devoted time, energy and money to the organization;
(2) she had deep affection towards Keith, and experienced many years of distress when she discovered that he was involved with other women;
(3) at no time during the past nine years has she been free from harassment, belittlement in the press and on this blog; and
(4) in those years she has lost friends who either believed the malarkey that was being spread about her or were too afraid to speak on her behalf for fear of what the NXIVM litigation machine would do to them.
Barbara was not and is not a fool.
ESP/NXIVM is, in the early part of a person’s exposure to it, a way to move past roadblocks that were keeping a person from achieving whatever success meant to them. I achieved benefit from its modules, and only left when I realized that any questions I raised about the modules or the way in which coaches worked with their students were thrown back at me as being ‘my disintegration’. So, I left the group after only a few years.
Barbara remained to try to make it be the best possible resource for bettering ourselves and our world.
She faced more than 12 lawsuits spanning a 9 year period. She lost her life savings to someone [Keith Raniere] who was supposed to love and care for her. She tried very hard to reconcile the positive effects she experienced from the ESP curriculum with the dawning realization that leadership at NXIVM had no interest in fixing the issues that were at cross purposes to its stated mission.
As more and more inconsistencies, lies, attempts at manipulation and blaming everything she challenged on her ‘inconsistencies and needs for more EMs’ [Exploration of Meaning Therapy] grew, she finally was able to see the real underbelly that lay beneath the veneer of ‘self-improvement and a better world’ being spouted by Keith and his remaining inner circle, and had the courage to leave.
I don’t know many people who could have withstood the onslaught she did, and not cave into the empty promises handed to her to settle the lawsuits. She was smart enough to know that one lawsuit would never be enough: Once settled, another one would appear to punish her and try to drive her business into ruin.
I look upon Keith and his groupies as the Terminator – never resting, never giving their victim a chance to catch her breath, nurse her wounds, rebuild her fortune, regain her reputation, reconnect with her friends and former business associates. Her life, the one she worked so hard to build for herself, was in ruins.
And for those who wrote recently that ‘the time for Barbara to have spoken up was 10 years ago’, you have short memories or else came in late to the conversation.
Barbara was an integral source of information for James Odato’s amazing series [Secrets of Nxivm] in 2012 in the Times Union. She was extremely vocal. But no one, no one in law enforcement, in the judicial system, at tax, the attorney general’s office – no one took one moment to follow up on any of it.
So no, you are quite wrong when you say she should have stood up 10 years ago. She’s been standing up for 9 years and is finally, FINALLY able to sit down and breathe.
I would challenge anyone, myself included, to be as strong, and yet remain as compassionate, loving, giving and graceful a woman as Barbara.
But, that is Barbara. That is the woman they chose to mess with. And though certainly other victims brought the titillating details of branding, underage sex, money laundering, etc. to the fore, and let me be clear, I applaud and support their courage just as much, Barbara was among the first to bring attention to the fact that this emperor was not wearing any clothes.
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