Cult Recovery Advocate & Co-Host, A Little Bit Culty
Author, Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult that Bound My Life
As a working actor and artistic professional, Sarah Edmondson has been a mainstay in the industry for more than 25 years. Among her many film and TV roles, a breakout performance in the hit CBS series Salvation created an even bigger audience for her expanding fanbase. With almost 100 IMDB credits including twelve films for the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime, she is also a well-established voiceover artist with roles in popular series such as Transformers: Cybertron and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
Sarah is also known for her role in a real-life saga that played out in the glare of the public eye. It began in 2005, when a personal and professional development company named NXIVM intrigued her with its promise to provide the tools and insight she needed to reach her potential. An initial 16-day workshop became a twelve-year tenure, but despite her rise through the ranks from student to coach to the operator of her own Vancouver center, questions lingered for her about the organization’s rules and practices. It all came into focus in 2017, when she accepted an invitation from her best friend to join DOS, a “secret sisterhood” within NXIVM. It was a decision that changed the trajectory of her life and resulted in a front-page bombshell in none other than the New York Times featuring a shocking photo of her branded body and her story as a woman on a mission to shut NXIVM down.
In 2019, Sarah published Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult that Bound My Life, with Kristine Gasbarre. In this acclaimed tell-all memoir, she shares her incredible true story from the moment she takes her first seminar to her harrowing fight to get out of NXIVM and bring its nefarious founder to justice. Sarah’s journey as a whistleblower has also been featured in the CBC podcast “Uncover: Escaping NXIVM” (downloaded over 25 million times) and “The Vow”, the critically acclaimed HBO documentary series.
With her creative career in full swing, Sarah launched the buzzed-about A Little Bit Culty podcast series in 2021. Co-hosted by her husband Anthony ‘Nippy’ Ames, A Little Bit Culty is part rollicking coffee-date, part deep-dive on everything from multilevel marketing to toxic yoga gurus. It’s also a major hit: With a massive new audience of 400,000 monthly listeners and a stunning variety of guests like Eckhart Tolle and Leah Remini, what started as a Pandemic ‘lockdown project’ is only picking up momentum with every new season.
Currently, Sarah lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons. She continues to work as an actor and podcaster while making time to attend conferences and events around the world as a speaker, host, and cult-recovery advocate.
As a voice artist, Sarah Edmondson has forged a respected career by bringing magical, animated characters to life. But after her life took a sharp turn into the clutches of a self-help cult, getting out and recovering from the fallout meant that she had to dig deep and rediscover a new voice: Her own. During her uplifting and candid keynote, Sarah talks about the profound and sometimes painful process of reclaiming her identity, and how creativity can be a powerful source of resilience in the face of staggering obstacles. Through data, personal experience, and anecdote, she helps the listener connect to their own journey and creative spark. There can be powerful liberation—and joy—in giving voice to your hardest experiences.
In this keynote based on her acclaimed memoir of the same title (with co-writer Kristine Gasbarre), Sarah Edmondson takes the audience inside her recruitment into the NXIVM cult, the 12 years she spent within the organization (during which she enrolled over 2,000 members and entered DOS—NXIVM’s “secret sisterhood”), her breaking point, and her harrowing fight to get out, to expose Keith Raniere and the leadership, to help others, and to heal. Complete with personal photographs as well as hard-hitting data about the psychology of cultic abuse, this heartfelt and thought-provoking presentation blends gritty reality with humor and empathy; evoking questions about friendship, ethics, good and evil. It’s an eye-opener for anyone who is interested in understanding the dynamics of coercive control, undue influence, and how the search to be “better” can sometimes override everything else.
with Nippy Ames
Think your company could never be culty? A word of warning: That’s probably a sign that your organization is already more vulnerable than you think. In this interactive keynote, Sarah Edmondson and Anthony ‘Nippy’ Ames bring their hit ‘A Little Bit Culty’ podcast format directly to corporate teams in order to help them understand how things like coercive control, gaslighting, and word salad can easily turn a growing organization into a culty one. With clinical data on the science of cultic abuse, and personal anecdotes from their time in NXIVM—a workplace so culty that the founder is now doing 120 years in prison—this informative talk is a must for anyone interested in building healthy, connective teams in a burnout culture where work/life boundaries get blurrier by the minute.
with Nippy Ames
After escaping and blowing the whistle on NXIVM, married couple Sarah Edmondson and Anthony ‘Nippy’ Ames had another job to tackle: Doubling down on healing themselves. In this candid keynote, they share what helps them continue to recover from the emotional, spiritual, and moral wounds they sustained during their 12-year cult experience and the aftermath of their highly public exit. Balancing evidence-based strategies from leading cult recovery experts with their own tried-and-tested practical tips and personal anecdotes, Sarah and Nippy’s presentation helps connect the audience to gentle ways of navigating everything from self-care and guilt to fight-or-flight mode and victim-blaming. You don’t have to be an ex-cult member to take away powerful insights on trauma, resilience, and recovery from their story. It’s a must-see for anyone with a stake in survivorship; from clinicians and caregivers to survivors and the people who love them.
with Nippy Ames
The multi-billion-dollar self-help and new age spiritual marketplaces are highly unregulated magnets for con artists, charlatans, and all kinds of culty types. As co-hosts of the hit ‘A Little Bit Culty’ podcast, Sarah Edmondson and Anthony ‘Nippy’ Ames help their audience identify and understand the ‘red flags’ that can indicate cultic abuse, coercive control, financial exploitation, and other abuses of power along the journey of self-transformation. But they also want you to know that living well isn’t just about spotting red flags: it’s also about embracing the green ones. As former NXIVM cult members turned whistleblowers, they’ve got some hard-won lessons to share that can help you avoid the pitfalls along the self-discovery path. They’ve also got practical tips on how to define the ideas, practices, and modalities that are healthy for you. In this informative and uplifting talk, the pair offers practical tips on spotting spiritual and self-help red flags, and identifying your authentic ‘green flags’. It’s not easy to cultivate openness and trust in a world that begs skepticism, but armed with their insights—you’ll be better prepared to seek safety.