Cult Survivor Empowers Other Victims Breaking Free of Coercive Control

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Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Tabby Chapman. April is Global Volunteer Month, a global movement to recognize volunteers and people who actively support their communities, whether through volunteerism or other elements around the Points of Light Civic Circle®, like Tabby. Read her story, and join the Global Volunteer Month celebration. 

Content Warning: Points of Light is proud to share the following uplifting and inspiring story. However, we acknowledge that a small portion below may be difficult for some readers. We encourage you to please care for your own wellbeing above all. 

Tabby Chapman has seven-year-old twin boys, both on the autism spectrum, taking care of whom she considers her day job. As a California family they spend time relaxing at the beach, but they also enjoy playing Legos and video games. Tabby’s career is as a marriage and family therapist and a professional clinical counselor. She’s currently working on her PhD in forensic psychology, public policy and law with the intention of redefining the legal concept of coercive control.

Unbeknownst to many, Tabby was a member of the infamous NXIVM cult for several years until her escape in 2014 when she used lack of finances as a way to get out without attracting litigious attention from leadership as many ex-members did. NXIVM started as a personal development company using a multi-level marketing scheme by Keith Raniere and ended with him going to prison for sex trafficking—among other crimes. Now, Tabby is taking a difficult period of her life and turning it into a force for good with her nonprofit, The Freedom Train Project, through which she helps people get away and recover from cults and coercive control.

The idea initially came to her while filming the documentary miniseries Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult alongside other Raniere victims and cult experts in 2018. Even after the investigation, arrests and negative press, some NXIVM members remained dedicated, and victims were discussing possible reasons behind the phenomenon. So, in 2020, without any philanthropic grants or government funding, Tabby and her team became the assistance Tabby would have liked to have had during her days with NXIVM.

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