Regarding violence in married couples, the World Report on Violence and Health , based on information collected in 38 countries, places rates of lifetime prevalence at between 10% and 76%.
Similarly, a recent literature review in the European context reported high rates of victimization over lifetimes, varying from 16% to 39% .
Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, University of Fernando Pessoa, Praça 9 de Abril, 349, 4249-004 Porto, Portugal Received 17 April 2014; Revised 13 July 2014; Accepted 29 July 2014; Published 28 August 2014Academic Editor: Julianne C. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
In the following literature review, we begin by showing how research in the area of marital and dating violence has increased; we then present and discuss the results of the few available studies comparing levels of violence across these two distinct relational contexts—marriage and dating; finally, we concentrate on investigations that analyze the relationships between attitudes and behaviors.
Empirical findings show quite high levels of violence within both types of relationships.
A sample of 3,716 participants, aged 15 to 67 years, filled in one attitudinal questionnaire and a self-report instrument on abuse perpetration and victimization.
Attitudinal data revealed a general disapproval of violence use, with greater violence support among males and married participants.
An intercultural study in 31 universities from 16 countries showed that the rate of physical assault of dating partners in the previous 12 months ranged from 17% to 45% .
When comparing violence in both relational contexts, we found that, in terms of perpetration, more dating partners reported physical abuse and severe forms of physical abuse than married partners. Marital violence has been a widely studied topic since the seventies, whereas violence between dating partners has become the object of growing attention since Makepeace pioneer study in 1981 .
This study revealed that one in every five college students was affected by this problem, whereas 61% of participants revealed that they knew young people who had gone through an abusive dating experience.
Since then, research on dating violence has increased steadily and considerably, assuming a prominent position in the relevant international scientific literature.
Yet, studies that compare violence between dating and married couples are sparse in international research and inexistent in the Portuguese context.
As for the United States of America, researchers  found rates of lifetime prevalence ranging from 17.4% to 25.5%.
With respect to dating violence, research has also produced a wide variation of results, suggesting prevalence rates of offenders or victims ranging from 12.1%  to 72.4% .