THREE girls who spoke out about their years of abuse at the hands of their grandfather have told why they think there needs to be more education.

And they have stressed that their lives improved dramatically when family members discovered what had been going on.

As reported last week, the three girls and their parents approached the Daily Echo to tell their story in the hope that other children would not suffer in the same way. Their grandfather was jailed for 12 years after his catalogue of abuse finally came to light.

Anna, now 14, said she believes the abuse started when she was around three.

She said: "I didn't see that what I was going through was bad or abnormal. I remember seeing posters about sexual abuse when I was much older and they had phone numbers on them.

"I didn't think for one minute that I would ever call them - I thought it was something different.

"I realised it was wrong when I was about 12 and we had sex education at school. I wrote a letter and posted it to my grandad. He said 'I got your letter - it won't happen any more.' By then it had already started happening to my little sisters.

"I used to go to his house even when I didn't want to go if I knew Lily and Ava were going. I felt I needed to be there to protect them and I used to try to keep them with me.

"Some form of sex education starts when children are about nine or 10 but that is far too late."

Lily, 10, said: "I think I started to realise it was wrong when I was about seven but I just thought it wasn't really a big deal. He told me not to tell anyone. He made me think there was nothing wrong with what was going on and no one told me it was wrong.

"If there is more awareness more children would know it is wrong and they could tell someone and fewer childhoods would be ruined.

"I feel like my childhood has been washed away but it would be simple to warn children.

"I didn't realise it was so serious and that you could go to prison for it - I felt like it was my fault."

Ava, nine, said: "Grandad used to tell me not to tell granny or my sisters because he was spoiling me and they would be jealous. At the time I didn't really think anything of it. I just thought it was a normal thing that people would do.

"He always used to act nice in front of my mum and he would do nice things with us like go out for walks and play games."

All three girls said they feel much happier now the offences are out in the open and they can talk about it with their parents. Their mum added: "We have become much closer and we can look at things differently. If there is anyone out there who is afraid to speak out, we want them to know it makes things better."