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‘I feel like a survivor’: Woman uses iPhone SOS during rape attempt in Oceanfront

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Kelli Worst is a survivor, but it took her years to feel that way.

“It’s something that will always be with me, but now I feel more like a survivor than a victim,” she said.

Worst’s long journey towards survival began on the sands of Virginia Beach Oceanfront in the early morning of December 29, 2019. That morning, 22-year-old Najee Bullock pulled her to the beach and tried to sexually assault her. He made a series of smart decisions that eventually saved him physically—but that night’s emotional wounds were much more difficult to heal.

“Now I have learned and I know that the only reason for an attack is the attacker. It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t want this to happen to me. Nobody wants that to happen,” he said.

Bullock was found guilty of kidnapping Worst in December 2021 with the intention of defiling him. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison and suspended for 15 years – well above the proposed 10 years and seven months.

At worst, a high prison sentence feels like justice.

Kelli Worst’s advice to other survivors on tracking recovery, prosecution:

“I understand why victims are afraid or don’t want to go through legal action,” Worst said. “It was tough. But luckily I was in therapy and still am and got a lot of support. But it was hard to see him in court this much.”

It’s not just years of therapy, support from loved ones, and prosecution of his aggressor that makes Worst feel like a survivor. He wasn’t aware of it at the time, but he survived that terrible December night as he fought for his life in the sand.

“It took some time to come to these realizations myself. I think it’s important for victims to seek therapy. “I went through extensive therapy and learned to see the moments when I did well because in the beginning you just want to blame yourself,” she said.

The hours leading up to the attack were happy hour. The worst was spending a Saturday night at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront with two good friends from high school. The girls stayed out until the last call, drinking, dancing and enjoying each other’s company.

“Honestly we were just having a blast. It was a really good girls’ night,” Worst said.

Worst and his friends urged Lyfts to come and pick them up after 2am. With safety in mind, one of Worst’s friends stayed with him until his Lyft arrived. The women said goodbye and went their separate ways.

“As far as he knows, I got on my Lyft but this guy was reaching for the doorknob. [Bullock] He approached me in what seemed normal and nice and asked me to help him find his phone,” Worst said.

Thinking she could help him quickly, Worst asked the Lyft driver to wait while he helped Bullock search for his iPhone.

“He said he was in the army and not from here, and I immediately thought of my brother who was in the military,” Worst said. “I thought he should probably report somewhere in the morning. If he doesn’t get there, he’ll be in trouble. I just felt sorry for him and wanted to help him, and to be honest, I felt a sense of security when he told me he was in the military.”

Worst and Bullock crossed the bush and grass, searching for the iPhone. She gave him a number he called many times, but no one answered. When he tried to enter the number in Find My iPhone, the number was not valid.

Worst of all, he got distracted trying to find the iPhone, and Bullock led him to the sand.

“I gave him my phone and said, ‘Write yourself, because either you don’t spell it right or I spell it wrong.’ He said, ‘There you go,’ he said. ‘That’s when I finally got a bad feeling because he was holding my phone and his hand was off the app and he was on the iPhone. He had no idea how to navigate.”

Bullock, holding her iPhone with one hand, began making sexual gestures towards Worst with the other. Thinking that he should run away immediately, Worst asked him for his phone so he could try calling it again. He tried to walk away with his device in hand.

“I turned around and walked away and probably about 5 feet away from him and that’s when he came up to me, covered my mouth and nose and knocked me down and stuck me face down in the sand,” he said.

He tried to escape twice and failed. The louder he screamed, the harder Bullock knocked him down. That’s when he decided to use a feature on his iPhone to get help.

“My phone was still in my right hand, so I activated the SOS feature by holding down the side button and power button and then swiping so I could hear everything from that moment on 911,” Worst said. .

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Activate SOS on iPhone

Depending on the phone model, there are two ways to call emergency services by activating the SOS feature on an iPhone.

On an iPhone 8 or later:

  • Press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons until the SOS slider appears on your screen. Then swipe your finger on the slider to call 911.
  • If you hold down the buttons but do not drag the slider, an emergency alert will sound and a countdown will begin. Next, the iPhone will automatically dial 911.

On iPhone 7 or earlier:

  • Quickly press the side or top button five times until the SOS slider appears on your screen. Then swipe your finger on the slider to call 911.

You can also update your settings to provide an emergency contact. When the SOS device is activated, your emergency contact will receive a text message with your current location.

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A 911 officer was on the line, listening to Worst as he pleaded with Bullock not to hurt him. Worst of all, he tried to give the dispatcher as many clues as possible, telling the officers he didn’t want to go near the ocean so they would know he was on the beach. The police would later tell Worst that clues led them to the sand instead of a nearby hotel where they would initially check out.

“He told me he had a knife. He said I don’t want to have to use it. I just want to attack you. Just let me masturbate and I’ll let you go,” said Worst.

Worst of all, he doesn’t know if Bullock saw the phone screen or heard the officer on the phone, but he took his iPhone and hung up on 911.

“At that point, I really thought I could die here,” Worst said.

Just then, Virginia Beach Police Department officers arrived on the scene, the lights of squad cars illuminating the beach. Bullock picked up his phone and ran north, Worst told an officer he had been attacked.

“It was like a moment, I knew I was going to be okay in the end,” he said.

“I have my phone in hand and knowing how to activate the SOS feature has saved my life,” he added.

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Activate SOS on Android

To enable emergency SOS on Android, you must first turn it on in settings. To enable the SOS feature, you must:

  • Quickly press the power button at least five times.
  • The SOS feature automatically sends your phone’s location to first responders when you dial an emergency number or send a text message.

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Worst of all, he survived using quick thinking and the SOS function on his phone, but his walk on the beach that night was only the beginning of the long road to recovery.

For the next three years, Worst would work hard in therapy to come to terms with the shame he felt connected to the attack. He also appeared in court multiple times and testified against him at a preliminary hearing before pleading guilty to assaulting Bullock.

“Justice has finally been served, but I had to be there for many hearings over a long period of time. I had to testify against him at the preliminary hearing. “I had to do some hard things,” he said.

Over time, Worst began to see himself as a survivor. She hopes that telling her story will allow other survivors to share theirs as well.

“I hope telling my story will inspire other victims to tell their story to a therapist or someone. It helps to share, because in the beginning it feels like this hidden burden, you get embarrassed,” she said.

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