Sir Patrick Stewart has spoken of how he tried to protect his mother from the terrible beatings she suffered at the hands of his father.
Stewart said the violence was so bad his mother Gladys would often be left 'bleeding on the floor' after his war-hero father Alf came home drunk.
He and his brother Trevor would lay awake until their father returned from the pub so they would be ready to break up a fight.
The actor, 72, said the stage became a 'refuge' from his home and he felt safer acting than he did in his own house.
When the rows were at their worst, the two children would have to run to the phone box to call the police but Stewart said officers never treated the matter seriously.
Even when they came to the family's one-up one-down home in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, the police still did not take action.
He told The Independent on Sunday that policemen would tell his mother it needed two people to create an argument or blamed her for upsetting her husband.
Stewart said: 'Which is a way of saying he must have been justified to be violent, and we know there is no justification for being violent. None whatsoever.'
He said he used acting as a way of escaping the terror at home. The X-Men star credits his English teacher Cecil Dormand with starting his career by putting him a play at the age of 12.
He said: 'The first time that I walked on stage in my school dining hall I felt safer than I had ever felt in my life. Looking back, the reason I was always so comfortable on stage - the reason I have never had stage fright in my life - is because the stage is where I live.'
Since finding fame on the British stage and on screen, Stewart has raised awareness on domestic violence and supports the charity Refuge.
He said the work is for his mother as she had nowhere to turn and the domestic violence charity would have given her 'an option or a choice'.
Stewart participated in a memorable Who Do You Think You Are in an attempt to understand what lay behind his father's violence.
The actor now believes he suffered shell-shock and became increasingly bitter when his career declined following the war. But despite this insight, the vivid memories of the violence remain.
Stewart said even as a child he was able to judge when a fight between his parents had got so bad that he had to intervene and put his body in between his parents.
He said: 'Now, it is really sad when a child becomes an expert on those kind of issues.'
After rising through the threatre ranks, Stewart found worldwide fame in America through his role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek.
But he returned to Britain in 2004 to nurture his first love and saviour from his childhood home - the stage - and said the past eight years have been the happiest of his life.