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Honoring loved one’s life lost, Iron Range family raises awareness of domestic violence

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VIRGINIA, MN -- An Iron Range community came together Wednesday to honor and remember one of their own who died suddenly and tragically.

Police say Kristen Bicking of Virginia was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Derek Malevich, in May.

He has since been charged with second-degree murder.

RELATED: Virginia man charged with ex-girlfriend’s murder

Kristen's friends and family marched from Angel of Hope Memorial to Olcott Park in Virginia.

They were memorializing Kristen's life while bringing awareness to a growing problem.

Kara Renny was Kristen's twin sister. She says her family never thought domestic violence would impact them so personally.

"You don't think it's going to happen to your family, but it's a very real situation, and it happens way more than it should," said Renny. "People aren't aware of how often it does happen like I wasn't until this happened."

Their goal now is to educate the community about the real effects of domestic violence.

Mandie Aalto is the executive director of Advocates for Family Peace.

The local organization has supported Kristen's family during this difficult time.

"Domestic violence is a community issue, and the only way it will end is if the entire community comes together, acknowledges the violence exists, and is committed to ending it," said Aalto.

Aalto says domestic violence is more widespread than people know.

They serve more than 600 adults and children in Northern St. Louis County each year, but studies show only 20% of victims report their abuse.

Her family hopes through sharing Kristen's story; victims know they are not alone.

"She had her struggles just like everybody does, but she was on the right track, and it shouldn't have happened," said Renny.

Malevich is back in court for a hearing on July 19th.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can find links to local resources below.

Safe Haven

Advocates for Family Peace

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Natalie Grant

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