January 10, 2011 ( – Increasing rates of violence between couples in the United States and Europe have been widely attributed to the global recession, but the problem has another dimension that is often ignored: it is far more likely to occur between unmarried, cohabiting couples than married couples.

Spanish statistics, which have been highlighted in recent years by Europe’s Family Policy Institute (FPI), and recently reported by the Spanish Newspaper ABC, indicate that while only 11% of Spanish couples cohabit without marriage, such unions account for 58% of the most violent crimes between couples. For every one protection order issued for a married couple, ten are issued for cohabiting couples.

FPI also reports that, according to Spanish government statistics, “for every homicide that is brought about in a marriage, 12 are produced” in non-married couples. Moreover, the increase in such homicides in recent years is largely explained by cohabitation; homicides have jumped 45% among cohabiting couples, while they have actually fallen 15% among married couples.

Similar results have been found in statistical surveys of the United States and Britain, says Ignacio Socías, blogging for Spain’s El Razón newspaper.

“All of the official statistical studies of the Department of Justice of the USA regarding family violence, show that women who are married, including those who have been separated or divorced, have less than half the possibility of suffering [domestic violence],” Socías writes. “In the United Kingdom, the official survey ‘The British Crime Survey’ indicates that married women are the ones who have the least risk of suffering domestic violence.”