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Hundreds dance against violence as State Police hunt for suspect
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Valentine's Day brought hundreds of people out to Bronson Park on Thursday for a march against domestic violence.
The event comes as State Police search for a third suspect involved in a brutal attack and rape against a woman last month.
Cities all across the world joined together, staging their own walks and marches against domestic violence.
It's called One Billion Rising, with 190 countries standing tall.
They danced on state at Bronson Park, demonstrating that they are the ones in control of their bodies.
Hundreds held signs and on this one night, were the face of domestic violence, including Kyla James, who told Newschannel 3 she was a victim when she was 16, but now stands as a self-described "thriver," with the rest of the women.
"It isn't just 'no means no,' but only yes means yes, and whether they've experienced violence and need to move through it, there's help for them and they don't have to experience violence," she said.
Women along with young girls marched down city streets, many aware of a high-profile case in their own back yard.
Investigators are still looking for Curtis Hankton, who was involved in a brutal attack with two other men at Big Bend Apartments in Kalamazoo Township.
The men broke into an apartment, beat up a woman, raped, and then kidnapped her.
The two others have been arrested.
"I hope she's not home alone, feeling ashamed, or feeling like it's her fault, and I hope she is being surrounded," James said.
The women say there is no need to hide in the shadows anymore, bringing voices to an issue that has many often ashamed.
"It's seen as an individual issue, something that happens in a particular family or a particular type of woman," said participant Rebecca Joyce. "But stats tell us that one billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime."
According to the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office, 929 misdemeanor domestic violence cases went through the court system last year, but not all were against women.