Clinical studies also show that abusive marriages are generally preceded by violent dating relationships and are characterized by strategies to control and restrict women’s autonomy .
The relevance of the study of violence in dating relationships is mainly concerned with three aspects: the magnitude and immediate impact on victims, their fragility and vulnerability, and the fact that dating violence can potentiate more serious aggression (such as physical and sexual violence) .
Other studies suggest that severe forms of violence are more likely to be perpetrated by females (e.g., ).
For instance, Straus  found that rates of perpetration of minor and severe acts ranged from 17% to 48% for females and 16% to 38% for males.
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.
Data collected in Portugal, although sparse, confirms that dating violence is a significant social problem.
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.
This study examines the attitudes about intimate violence and compares the prevalence of abuse reported by married and dating participants, by type of abuse and sex of respondent.
Stets and Straus , however, found lower levels of violence in dating partners but Rouse et al.
 found a similar pattern of results in terms of violence levels in married and dating partners.
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 .