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Sep 26, 2013 11:41 PM by Samantha Ptashkin

Domestic Violence: AZ ranks 5th in rate of women murdered by men

TUCSON- October 1 marks the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and in Arizona there is an alarming number of women who are ending up dead.

A study released by the Violence Policy Center reveals Arizona ranks 5th in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men, with a rate of 1.84 per 100,000.

Tucsonan Tina Soto is one of those women.

Soto was found shot to death in a car last June in the 4900 Block of East Butterweed Drive near Valencia and I-10. Two of her children were in the back seat.

"It's hard as a family knowing she's gone," says Soto's aunt, Rachel Tineo.

Four months later Tineo finds herself asking the "What Ifs?" "If I would have only been there for her, if I would have only told her this, if I would have only been with her that night, she wouldn't have passed away," Tineo says.

The man accused of killing Soto is Stephen J. Malone, her estranged boyfriend. "You think these things only happen on TV or in movies, but they're really happening to normal people just like you and me," Tineo says.

In 2012 there were 17 domestic violence related deaths across Pima County. So far in 2013 the number is already up to 13. "We know this is a very real issue and it's a life or death issue," Emerge! CEO Ed Mercurio-Sawkwa says.

Mercurio-Sawkwa says like in Soto's case, most often the men aren't strangers, rather ex-husbands or ex-boyfriends. "There's a great deal of danger that comes with the act of leaving because from the abuser's standpoint, the object of their control has dared to leave them and they're going to take action based on that," Mercurio-Sawkwa says.

Programs like Emerge! aim to empower and protect women. Unfortunately Soto never had the chance to take advantage of the program.

Now Tineo hopes her niece's death will encourage other women to seek help before it's too late. "I miss our talks, I miss her calling me every day to tell me she loved me," Tineo says. "That's the type of person she was."

Here is a complete list of how states rank when it comes to females murdered by males:

1 South Carolina 2.54 per 100,000
2 Alaska 2.01 per 100,000
3 Oklahoma 1.99 per 100,000
4 Delaware 1.92 per 100,000
5 Arizona 1.84 per 100,000
6 Tennessee 1.80 per 100,000
7 Idaho 1.77 per 100,000
8 West Virginia 1.70 per 100,000
9 Louisiana 1.67 per 100,000
10 New Mexico 1.62 per 100,000

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