Katrina M. McCaffery, better known as ‘Kitty’, was born in Fort Benning, GA on November 20, 1981. Her military father and young mother divorced before she was a year old. Kitty’s mother moved to central Florida where majority of her family lived. Kitty’s mother remarried when she was four.
Shortly, after her mother married her stepfather, domestic abuse began to take place. Both Kitty and her mother suffered from mental, physical, and verbal abuse from her new stepfather. She grew up in a Christian conservative household where to the public, her life seemed normal and happy. Behind closed doors was an entirely different story.
Along with the daily abuse, Kitty was put to work at a very young age. Her step father pulled Kitty out of school at age 14 to work at his sports shop. Kitty’s step Father was a professional bass fisherman who has made a name for himself winning tournaments across Florida and Alabama. His dream was to own his own sports shop but had a elementary school education. Her mother was a full time waitress and the main source of income for the family.
Instead of just hiring someone of age that was qualified, Kitty’s stepfather promised homeschooling while she made money working for him at the sports shop. Within just months of the grand opening, her step father found he was bored spending 10 hours a day working indoors. He started a fishing guide service and was quickly filling his schedule with guide trips. This left 14 yr. old Kitty to open the shop most mornings, work as cashier, do inventory, order goods, while trying to school herself and babysit her younger sister.
This went on for 3 years without a single child labor report from customers. Several customers and friends of the family noticed the bruising, busted lips, and encountered the actual abuse. Still, not a single soul reported it.
Life wasn’t always bad for Kitty growing up. While working at her step Father’s shop, she learned several skills for running a business. She also picked up on local fishing tips including hot spots and what people were catching fish on. This impressed owner Bill Rynerson of a local newspaper named The Auburndale Star who just happened to be a fan of bass fishing. He hired Kitty to do a weekly fishing column for the sports section of the paper.
This was her first shot at journalism and the beginning of her dream to become a professional writer.
Eventually the home abuse seemed to escalate. Kitty tried running away a couple of times but failed at both attempts. She told police three different times about the abuse she was receiving at home. Her step Father was a savvy manipulator and could be extremely cunning. Somehow, he always managed to convince police she was an unruly child and he was doing his best to care for her.
At age 17, Kitty was sent to live with her biological father in north Georgia by her desperate mother. The situation turned out to be even worse unbeknownst to her mother. Grotesque sexual abuse and rape was added to Kitty’s list of traumatic experiences. It wasn’t the first time Kitty dealt with sexual abuse by the hand of a man. Her own great grandfather was handsy on several occasions and eventually placed in an assisted living facility for it. She also had a few run ins with predators when attending the sports shop without proper adult supervision. Still, nothing as sinister than what she experienced while living with her birth father.
Feeling broken and helpless, Kitty left her father’s home and moved in with a boyfriend she met through a step sister. She gave up on homeschooling and worked two jobs to save money. At the time, her goal was to attend Bible college and teach. However, a couple months after her 18th birthday she became pregnant with her daughter. Kitty married the father of her daughter and later birthed a son. Both children were born before she was 21.
Her dreams of becoming a scholar and teaching were pushed aside while she raised two small children. Her young husband couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble and dabbled in drugs. Home life was too much for him so he spent most his time with friends drinking and using street drugs. It was difficult for him to hold a job and he spent time in and out of jail for petty crimes.
Kitty wasn’t giving up. She refused to become a statistic. At a yardsale, she purchased her first computer. Kitty loved to read and spent time at her local library whenever she could. She remembered seeing books on building websites, coding, and basic computer skills, during one of her visits. Before long, she was educating herself on how to build websites and make money from home. The very first website she built in 2000 was for her favorite actress Krista Allen. It was just a fan site where Kitty collected photos from the web, magazines, and fans to post. The site has a message board for fans to meet and basic info about the actress.
A short time after the site was launched and gaining members, actress Krista Allen contacted Kitty by phone. Kitty could not believe her ears! After calming down and having Ms. Allen prove she was the real deal, Krista offered Kitty to run her website officially. Chi-ching! As they became close friends, Krista hired Kitty to run her fan club and later run her T-shirt company SuperExcellent.
At this time, celebrities and public figures needed official websites to gain an online presence. Later, social media was on the rise and the entertainment industry began to realize they could massively grow their fan base by having a solid online presence. Krista helped Kitty get her foot in the door. They founded ‘Hollyweb Online’ in 2001. By word of mouth, Kitty was getting more business than she could handle.
As the years passed, Kitty found she was a one stop shop for public figures and celebrities. Besides building and running websites and social media for clients, she was writing press releases, booking gigs, tracking stalkers, crisis control, and other various online jobs. Her business expanded into full PR, publicity, and talent management.
With the help from friends, clients, and family, Kitty began to speak out about her own personal life. She still had a passion to teach or at least help others who suffered from abuse like she faced growing up. In 2014, Kitty founded R.I.S.E. & Stand Inc. The purpose of the organization was to raise awareness about various acts of cruelty and find solutions to end it. Kitty with several of her clients and friends banned together to help educate the world on global topics like human trafficking, bullying, domestic abuse, paedophilia and rape to name a few. All with the intention to create or change laws and alert parents to dangers. Most importantly, protect children, victims, and animals at all cost.
In 2014, Kitty won an NAPW award. She was voted in the top 3 for female entrepreneurs in Florida.
in 2016, Rise & Stand inc. won a second place Shorty Award for best organization in the U.S.A.
Kitty now has 4 children. She divorced in 2007 and remarried in 2009. She retired in March 2019 after her 18th year working as a publicist and talent manager. Her company was named ‘McCaffery Media’. She continues to mentor and help people from all over the world through Rise & Stand. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, blogging, public speaking, and relaxing with her family.
Written by Selena Flesher. Sister of Katrina McCaffery.