Sheryl Gascoigne's eight-year relationship with the footballer, who now plays for Middlesbrough, ended in divorce last year after she realised the violence would never stop. She said her ex-husband's sudden rages left her with dislocated fingers, black eyes and multiple bruises.
Refuge, the UK's leading domestic violence charity, which is running the campaign "Domestic violence: It's a matter of life or death", is hoping to improve help for thousands of women and children. In Britain, one in four women experiences domestic violence at some point in her life, and two women are killed each week by a violent partner.
"By helping to launch Refuge's campaign and by talking about my own experiences for the first time, I hope women will realise they are not alone," said Mrs Gascoigne, 34.
She told The Sun how there was never any particular trigger for her ex-husband's violent outbursts. "I was once head butted in the face simply for laughing at another man's joke," she said. "I honestly thought I was the only woman going through it. And that I was somehow to blame for Paul's behaviour. There's a conspiracy of silence that surrounds domestic violence and that's what makes it so hard to get a grip on reality when it is happening to you," she said.
She told how a trip to the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland in 1996 ended with her being thrown around a hotel suite after a romantic meal. "One minute we were having a nice conversation about Paul's family and the next he had just exploded into uncontrollable anger," she said.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said she hoped the campaign would raise awareness of the issue. "It's a huge problem and something has to be done. It's not just the physical violence that robs a woman of her life. It's also the psychological and emotional trauma. Domestic violence is a serious crime," she said.Reuse content