Gazza's ex-wife urges women to leave violent partners

The former wife of footballer Paul Gascoigne today urged women to leave partners who attacked them.

Sheryl Gascoigne, who suffered domestic violence at the hands of the soccer star, spoke out amid reports that the problem increases when England are playing in the World Cup.

Just days before the start of the tournament in South Africa, she told BBC Breakfast: "What I hope to do is empower women, to say 'it's your choice'.

"You can't control what he's going to do, you can leave, you can do it, you deserve a life without fear, and your children deserve that life."

The problem was not necessarily linked to football or alcohol, she said.

"It's happening every day in houses throughout the country, and it isn't just because he's going down the pub to watch the football, or because his team has lost, it could be anything, he could have just had a bad day at work."

She added: "The man has a choice, whether to hit you or not, and you have a choice, whether you stay or go."

Deborah McIllveen of the charity Women's Aid told the same programme: "We want people to report, because the police should provide protection and help victims be safe."

She urged people to call the national domestic violence helpline or local services, to seek support and help.