Victim of Hull sex attacker Lance Bell tells her story in bid to help others
A woman attacked by the man she called “Dad” when she was eight years old has abandoned her right to anonymity to help other victims of child abuse.
Supermarket shelf-stacker Lance Bell, 35, groomed four young girls over a 16-year period, even telling police his victims, the youngest aged just six, had “taken advantage” of him.
One of his victims, L, sat with her family at Hull Crown Court last week to watch as Bell was jailed for 15 years for 19 counts of sex abuse.
Now, L, 24, has waived her legal right to anonymity to show other victims of child abuse they are not alone.
She said: “If waiving my right to anonymity and allowing my name and photograph to be printed helps just one victim, it will all have been worth it.
“I want to tell my story.
“I hope people will be able to relate to what happened to me and get the help they need.
“There is a stigma attached to the victims of child sex abuse. It needs to stop.
“People need to acknowledge it.”
Hull Crown Court heard how Bell, described by his victims as a “monster”, targeted young girls between 1993 and 2009. Relatives of some of the victims wept and shouted abuse from the public gallery at Bell, sitting in the dock, as details of his sickening crimes were given to the court.
L sat in silence.
She said: “It was really hard hearing the prosecution going into detail about the abuse.
“I didn’t join in the screaming. It sounds mad. But sitting there, I felt guilt. I am aware he had a family. I felt as though I was breaking that family up because he was going to be sent to prison.
“But that’s what happens to you when you have been a victim of sexual abuse. Others who have been abused might recognise what I am saying. They
get inside your head and mess you up.
“It was the first time I had seen him after all those years.
“I thought he might look over at the public gallery. But he just stared ahead of him.”
Bell, of St John’s Grove, east Hull, had been in an 18-month relationship with L’s mother.
The abuse happened mainly at her family home in Dodswell Grove in Greatfield estate.
L said: “Those type of people manipulate. He got inside my mum’s head too. She had no idea what was happening to me.
“But at the time, as an eight-year-old little girl, I thought she must have known what was happening.
“He told me not to tell anyone what he did to me. He said it was ‘our secret’.
“He said he would get into trouble if anyone found out.”
L, who is finally set to begin counselling this week, said Bell would often give her sweets as he primed her for abuse.
She said: “He would also buy me clothes. I thought he was just being nice. He was the man I called Dad.
“It was only later I realised he was grooming me.”
L said her teachers at Stockwell Primary, also on Greatfield estate, had no idea what was happening to her once she walked out of the school gates.
“Looking back, I am convinced there would have been signs of what was happening,” she said. “There has to be. But no one ever picked up on them.
“I think teachers need to undergo more training in how to spot sexual abuse.”
When she was 19, L plucked up the courage to tell her mum about the abuse she had endured.
“I had not breathed a word before,” she said. “We were having an honest conversation and I told her everything.
“She was very upset. She asked me what I wanted to do. I told her I didn’t want to do anything.
“At that point, I didn’t know about the other victims. I thought it would be my word against his and all those years had passed.”
L, who has sons aged 5 and 3, said she has come to pity Bell.
L: “There is just that feeling of pity left now. That is all I feel about him. What a pathetic little man he is.”
Judge Simon Jack told Bell he “groomed, degraded and abused” his victims.
He said Bell must serve half his sentence before he can be considered for release.
Bell must then sign the sex offenders’ register for the rest of his life and is banned from ever working with children.