Sir Patrick Stewart has opened up about his father's domestic abuse towards his mother.

The 77-year-old actor revealed that his dad took all of his anger out on his mother and while Patrick and his brother were never the focus of his attack, they felt shame at his actions.

Speaking about his belief that his soldier father suffered from PTSD, he told ITV's 'Loose Women': ''My brother and I lived with my mother and her sister across the road, we were treated so well.

''Suddenly there was this big, hairy man in the house. Increasingly things became more and more difficult.'

''What I only learned about a few years ago was that he had suffered what the newspapers described as severe shell shock. Of course he was never treated for it - what we now call PTSD.

''He was a weekend alcoholic and it was partly brought about because of his transformation from Regimental Sergeant Major to basically a semi-skilled labourer with no authority at all.

''Monday through Friday he was dedicated to his work, he brought in a modest income. On Friday nights he would bath in front of the fire, he would get himself dressed up and he would drink for most of the weekend.

''He would come home from the pub or the working men's club. We would hear him singing. He loved to sing. The kind of songs he was singing would give us an advance warning of the mood he was in.

''Very often it was bad. He would initiate arguments and then those arguments advanced into something more extreme - violence.''

Patrick admitted that the abuse took its toll on him and his brother and left them terrified in their own home.

He said: ''We became experts in something children should never, ever have to deal with, which was listening to the argument and judging when the argument would transform into violence.

''At those moments we would go in, we would just try and put our bodies between our mother and our father.

''[We didn't seek help] at that time no. One of the problems of domestic violence is that shame attached to it - for everybody, for the victim and the abuser and the children, too.'

''He never abused his children. It was all directed at my poor mum. If we could have done, yes [we would have taken the blows]. Standing between them would stop it, he [his father] would stand back.''

Speaking about a proposed new government bill to help victims of domestic abuse, he said: ''At last and there are many good things in this bill. However, the concern of all groups, like the one I'm attached to, Refuge, is the way they're going to be financing this is problematic.

''They're disbanding the welfare programme, which meant that victims of domestic violence could use housing aid to pay for their time inside a hostel, inside a safe house.

''That's how it would be used. That's no longer going to be available. So financing all the details of this bill, particularly how to make women and children safe.''

Encouraging those who need help to speak out, he said: ''Unlike my time, there is aid available now. There are 24-hour helplines. Women's Aid has a helpline. Call the helpline, you need not be alone.''