Red Cord raises awareness of human trafficking
Human trafficking is a hidden crime. It is hard to spot a victim of trafficking, and harder still to spot the trafficker. But with the right training, everyone in the community can help to combat the problem.
Cindy Evans began her research into the hidden world of human trafficking eight years ago after she had a spiritual awakening. She began researching, studying and educating herself about human trafficking.
What she found broke her heart.
"At first it is such a tough subject. I just said this is way too much for me," Evans said.
But she didn't give up. She continued her research for six years before realizing that she needed to narrow her focus. So she began looking into the statistics and concerns of Southwest Oklahoma.
"I was trying to find an organization, I wasn't trying to start one. I was just trying to find one that I could join and do this, and there wasn't one that I could find," Evans said. "So I started talking to friends that I have in Oklahoma City that run the Dragonfly Home and they said they didn't know of any. I really just felt like it was time for me to start one. That's where The Red Cord came from."
Evans founded The Red Cord, an organization devoted to raising awareness of human trafficking, in August 2016.
"Our goals are to see a state that is intolerant to any kind of trafficking. Our immediate goals are to raise awareness, conduct training and provide educational settings where people can learn about it," Evans said.
The Red Cord now has a number of members who have been trained by the Oklahoma Human Trafficking Task Force. They act as trainers for local businesses, organizations and groups, teaching them how to identify trafficking victims, as well as the indicators of human trafficking.
The four groups that The Red Cord is most interested in educating are medical personnel, hotel and motel employees, teachers and parents, as well as police and other law enforcement.
According to Evans, up to 80 percent of trafficking survivors were in a medical facility and were not identified by medical staff; between 40 and 50 percent of child survivors who are rescued are trafficked through hotels.
One major project that the group is working toward is an information campaign that would place posters warning about the signs of human trafficking inside every public restroom in the state.
Currently, there is no residential facility for victims of human trafficking in Southwest Oklahoma, something that Evans would like to see remedied.
"I would love to see a shelter in Southwest Oklahoma," Evans said. "It's going to take a special person to come up and say 'I am ready to start a shelter'; it's a really huge commitment."
For now, the group is partnering with The Dragonfly Home of Oklahoma City, a human trafficking crisis and restoration center. The Dragonfly Home provides assistance to survivors of trafficking in the form of therapy, legal advice and document recovery, among other services.