While millions of sports fans enjoyed the NFL Superbowl between the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots, former sex slave Toni D. Rivera was stuck in a harrowing situation inside a seedy hotel where she was forced to pay off her pimp’s losing bet with her body.
When the Packers lost that game in 1996, the sex trafficker handed Rivera over to the winner to pay down the pimp’s “debts.” After Rivera finished having sex with that one man, she had to do the same thing with 49 other men in one night until the terms of the bet were satisfied. Moreover, Rivera reveals she discerned early on that her life may have depended on doing her trafficker’s bidding.
“I was considered a debt payment. You sleep with the gorilla pimps. It was a lot,” she recalls somberly. “I had to play my cards right. I saw if you did not do what you were told to do, you pretty much didn’t come back. I saw a couple of girls who didn’t do what they were told. I never saw them again. I don’t know where they are to this day or what happened to them.”
This is just one of the more grisly details of an agonizing life that arches from tragedy to triumph for the Southern California resident. She was snatched off the streets in North Carolina in the mid-1990s just as she entered adulthood and forced into what HumanRightsFirst.org says is a $100 billion-dollar-a-year sex trade industry.
Just as repulsive was when Rivera started noticing the money being made off of her and other sex slaves. That’s when Rivera eventually graduated from sex slave to becoming a sex trafficker. Rivera admits she frequently recruited innocent young girls from churches to become what amounts to being a mobile prostitute.
Rivera said she retired from the sex trade altogether when her daughter had every nearly victimized the way she was. While riding the 6-train in New York one day, a known trafficker tried to snatch her daughter off of a packed subway and no one tried to step in to help her.
Because Rivera knows every phase and aspect of the sex trade, she is now better equipped to rescue young kids from that bleak and brutal life, which she does in Southern California. Her expertise is needed now more than ever, as limited police resources are tied up during these tumultuous times.
“Stay up on your kids daily. Check their phones, being in tune when they on social media, when they are going out to party, hanging with their friends,” she admonishes parents. “Make sure you know who’s in your neighborhood and what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid of being the nosy neighbor.”
To help fight sex trafficking, log onto ToniDRivera.com and on Instagram @tonidrivera. Flip the page to see the entire interview at the 53-minute mark.