The purpose of life is a life of purpose.
– Robert Byrne
May you live all the days of your life.
Life is like a novel with the end ripped out.
Very few people in this world can say they had the perfect childhood. I have interviewed a lot of people in the 16 years I’ve worked as a publicist and PR. While volunteering at retirement homes I have heard stories that would blow your mind from elderly folks who have lived through sheer terror. One thing I have learned from numerous interviews and from counseling, is that a mass majority of people have some kind of history of child abuse. I am of no exception. My mother had birthed me when she was only 16. She hurriedly married my birth father who was in the army at the time. I was born in Fort Benning, Ga in 1981. Unfortunately, but to no surprise the marriage did not last longer than a year. My mother moved to Aburndale, FL where my grandmother and great-grand parents lived. My mother got a waitress job at a small family restaurant and my grandmother and Aunt helped raise me.
When I was two and half my Mom met my soon to be step-father. They married when I was four. The first couple of years was great. I can still remember him taking me to the park and the actual day I asked if I could call him Daddy. I remember him hugging me and telling me he is my Dad and would never call me his step-daughter. Soon after they married though things begin to change. Looking back, I think it may had to do with his drastic change of lifestyle. My step-father decided to quit drinking and start taking us to church. He was a Charismatic; my family were all Independent Fundamental Baptist. My Mom wasn’t ecstatic about going to a church so different from what she was used to but she was happy my Step-father was making a positive change in his life. Some people get crazy angry when they are drunk. My Dad was the opposite. He stopped drinking cold turkey. Despite the family support and his church, he was crabby all the time. On most days, he was downright hateful. It wasn’t long before the abuse started on both me and my mother. First, he just called us mean words and put us down a lot. I remember hearing my Mom cry a lot. She would beg him to stop being so mean. I was just a little younger than 5 when I remember the first time I saw my Dad hit my Mom. I ran to my room terrified and still to this day I have nightmares of that event. There has been an innumerable amount of attacks on me and my mother since then but, for some reason that is the one I dream about. The abuse continued, on a regular basis, for several years. One a neighbor called HRS, which is now DFCS, to report the abuse. When HRS visited our house, my mother denied all abuse. I did the same after hearing her deny it. I was in first grade at that time and I remember HRS coming to our school to speak with me. Even though I was only 7, I remember being completely humiliated. HRS sent two men to speak with me and check me out. The only female in the room was my Principle Mrs. Castle. I had to strip down and bend over like something you would see on a Prison TV show. They did note some bruises including belt marks on my bottom. When I got home that day my parents asked me what happened. They were informed of the visit. When I told them all I had to do my step-dad was furious. The following morning, he kept me home from school and we all went to the HRS office where he went off on them. Instead of having him arrested or using this in their case, they apologized for their investigators bad behavior and closed the case. My Dad was good at manipulating people and making himself look like a perfect Christian loving father.
One thing I do have to say for him is that he never sexually abused me. Not once did he touch me in an inappropriate way. He did treat me as his own and never told anyone I was not his. There were times he would show me love and attention. For most of my childhood my Dad was a professional bass fisherman and guide. When he wasn’t fishing tournaments he was practicing. In the summers, my Mom worked days so I was in the care of my Step-dad. I still recall these as the worse days of my life. He would wake me up around 4am to get on the boat. We would spend all day out in the grueling Florida sun while he fished. Sometimes we didn’t go home till the sun was going down. My Dad’s idea of nourishment was lake water, chips, and crackers. I rarely got a decent meal till dinner time. During the weeks with my Dad I was treated like a boy. I had to do yard work with him, I had to help him work on cars and refurbish antiques for extra money. I learned a lot of traits and skills but it killed me watching all the neighborhood kids play as I worked. The only time I was ever allowed to play with my friends is if he was gone. In 1992, when I was 10-11 years old my Dad decided to open a plastic lure company with my uncle. He had really made a name for himself in the bass fishing community and had come up with a great idea for plastic worms. Within a year, they purchased warehouses to house the machines, plastic, glitter, garlic and salt oils. Part of me was relieved we wouldn’t spend as much time on the lake. The other part knew I was going to be put to work. From then on out I spent my summers and time after school helping my Dad mix plastic, cook, and package the plastic worms. We spent hours on the weekends distributing them all over FL or mailing of bulk packages. Absolutely no fun for a young girl. However, this was my life, I can say at least I learned how to run a business. In my childhood home you dare not complain, cry, or speak out of turn. I was a very quiet child and just did as I was told out of fear of being beat. When I was away from my Step-dad, I was a whole different child who would never shut up. lol. I released all my thoughts and energy in the sweet time I had to be an actual child.
My baby sister was born in 1993. She was the best thing I had ever had happen to me at that time. I had an older step-sister but we fought a lot and had tons of issues that usually ended up getting us both beat. My Mom went back to work before her 6 weeks leave was up. We were really struggling at the time and already lost our home. We were now living in the vacation cabin that sat on my Uncle’s property. It was only two rooms and very small. My Sister was born November 4th and my birthday was November 20th. I turned 12 just weeks after her birth and I became more like a mother to her. Our Mom worked up to 16 hours a day. Our Dad would be gone from sun up to sun down due to his new business. As much as he didn’t want to lose his big helper, I had to stay home and care for my sister because they couldn’t afford daycare. I wasn’t upset at all! I was thrilled to get out of that hot, boring, stinky warehouse. The only thing that kept me from going insane was the radio or listening to my Dad tell me his conspiracy stories. If anyone has ever wondered why I am so obsessed with conspiracies, this is where it came from. My dad told me his thoughts on everything from the JFK assignation to subliminal messages on TV directed at children. He loved that I would ask questions and was really interested in his theories. It’s about one of the only things we ever bonded over. However, my thirst for knowledge (probably due to constant boredom) was used against me. At a yard sale, shortly after my Sister was born my Dad found an entire set of Encyclopedias for $50. He loved to collect things, especially antiques, or things that could be re-sold for profit. A typical punishment, if I did something wrong in his eyes, was a spanking with the belt and then an hour in my room. I didn’t have a TV but, I had books and a radio. After he bought the encyclopedias, my punishment after my spanking was to sit and read them starting with A and not to stop till he said. Than he would take the book and have me tell him everything I read to make sure I really read it. If I left something out or said something wrong, he would call me names like, stupid, idiot. Or, he would say I was good for anything.
For two years I stayed home raising my baby Sister. Eventually, Dad turned got a shed to start storing boxes of plastic worms so I could package and label them at home while I baby sat. I wasn’t getting off so easy. When I was 13, the domestic abuse at home was out of control. They were struggling to keep the business afloat and my Mother had enough of my Dad’s church. They were constantly fighting about money and religion. Most the time, Dad would escalate the arguments into full blown fights. He always seemed to find a way to drag me into it and before it was all over my Mom and I were left beat up. This was traumatizing for my baby Sister as imaginable. My Dad decided to not let me go back to school. I was not going to attend the 8th grade because he needed me to work and watch my sister. Somehow, he managed to get a business loan and opened a sports shop. At first it was just going to be a store to sell his plastic lures. However, it turned into a small Dick’s Sporting Goods and cost more to stock than he expected. There was no money left for employees but my Dad was in luck. He had me. Sigh. I worked there helping my Dad and learning the ropes of running a store, when he decided he didn’t want to be trapped in doors all day dealing with “idiots” as he would say. He added bass fishing guide trips as part of ours stores services and in no time had people lined up. Now, I was getting up at 6am with my Dad and Sister Mon-Sat so he could drop us girls off at the store while he would go fishing. Believe it or not, I was running a store alone at 13 yrs. old with a toddler. I was told if anyone asked, to say my Dad ran to the store or something and would be back soon. What still ticks me off till this day, is the fact that we had several grown male customers that came in often and knew my Dad was illegally working me. Not once, did anyone make a call. If that wasn’t bad enough, several of my Dad’s fishing buddies witnessed him abusing me and my sister. We saw men get sick and walk out or shout at Dad and leave. Never did they think to call the law on their beloved professional guides-man that created their tournament winning fishing lures. I am sure some of them may read this who follow me to this day. Shame on YOU.
I started to get rebellious a few months before I turned 14. I was sick and tired of working at the store. On top of watching all my friends get to go to school, hang out at the mall, have boyfriends, and live their life, I was getting molested by my Great Grandpa. Our family would go to my grandparents’ house on Saturday evenings and sometimes after church on Sunday. My parents would play cards and I would sit and watch TV. Sometimes my cousin who was my age would be there too and we would play. However, I couldn’t enjoy the free time because my than 70 yr. old great grand-father would snatch me up any chance he could and force kiss me. If he felt he could get away with it, he would grab my boobs or other places. I told my Mom and Grandma and they would just get on to him. He would deny it of course and say he was just giving me a hug. He acted as if I was blowing it all out of proportion. My Mom believed me and I think my Grandma did too at the time but they weren’t sure what to do about it. Since he got away with it, he became more aggressive. At one point, he slipped his hand down my pants and I screamed. The whole family came in at the point and shamed him. Eventually he was sent to live in a home and declared that his mind was gone. I’ve read a lot about Alzheimer’s disease and it is possible that’s what changed him from being the sweet loving grandpa to the disgusting molester. Either way, it scarred me for life. I felt as if my family didn’t care about my well-being. No one ever put their foot down about the domestic abuse. Everyone knew about it. It was impossible not to. I didn’t feel as if anyone really stood up for me when my grandfather was being a perv. My parents promised to home school me so I would still get a diploma and they never even tried to buy the books. You can say I was on the edge of insanity thinking my life was forever ruined, thanks to them.
I started sneaking out at night to spend some time with my friends. One of my closest friends that lived down the street from me had a lot of the same issues with her step-father. This man was also a pervert who tried to get us to undress in front of him or would pop in her room when he knew we were undressing. She and I, one other girl, and a boy who liked me, all decided to run away. We chose a night to leave and packed our things. My Plan was to head to north Georgia. It was rumored that my biological Dad lived there. I had his name, birth-date, and one photo. I thought maybe someone could help me find him and then my life would be back on track. I had this perfect fairy tale in my mind. I left a note on my dresser as to why I was running away and around midnight I left my home through the window. I met up with my friends and we started walking. All I can say is the Lord was with us that night. We hitchhiked several times with strangers and truckers. At one point, I got really scared when a guy that picked us up had a gun sitting in his lap. We asked him about it and he said, “you never know when you may need it.” Around 4am in the morning we were exhausted and hungry. A man leaving a truck stop saw us all laying on the picnic tables and ask what we were doing out so late. We all told him in our cocky way our life story and our plans. He sat and talked to us for a while and before long had us all in tears. He convinced us this is not what God wanted and we were very lucky someone hadn’t kidnapped us or killed us yet. He talked us into letting him drive us home and call our parents on the way. When we got back, the cops were waiting for us and took down our stories. My Dad would not look or speak to me. Wow I had hurt him! My Mom was livid. When everything settled down I slept for hours. When I woke up I was told I was being shipped off to live with my Aunt in Denham Springs, Louisiana.
I lived with my Aunt for 7 months along with her three children. My Aunt was a dedicated Independent Fundamental Baptist. My entire life was different while living with her. I started to put on some weight from eating healthy and I got to play like a kid. At 14, I was really interested in Barbie’s a young girl stuff because I never got to be a kid often. I got to sleep in till 8am which was late for me. I had actual breakfast and then had to do daily devotions. This meant I read a few chapters from the Bible and prayed every morning before starting my day. My Aunt got my home schooling books and helped me get caught up on my education. We went to church three times a week. Sunday morning and night. We also went on Wednesday night and helped in the bus ministry. I was avid in my youth department and enjoyed doing whatever the church had planned for us just because I was getting to hang around other teens. No matter how happy I was, I missed my Mom and little sister. I didn’t like my sister being around my Dad without me and I felt horrible leaving her. I really wish I could go back in time and not make the call home asking if I could come back. I thought my 7 months of Bible study and prayer had me strong enough to face my Dad and hopefully I could use scripture to change his heart. I thought if I just showed him more love maybe I could change him and we could have a happy family. While I was away, my Mom had convinced him to go to a Baptist church with her. Some scandal had broken out at his church and he was finally ready to leave and try my Mom’s type of church. This gave me hope that things at home had changed.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. If anything, my Dad was acting like even more of a jackass since I left him to care for the shop and my sister alone. He gave me all sorts of jobs to do to make up for my time away and said he needed to instill good work ethnic back in me again. According to him, my time away was just a big waste of time for me to get fat and lazy. I was maybe 114 lbs. lol. At night after work, I would read a book called “Elsie Dinsmore” the book was about a girl who through her love and respect, caused her Dad to change his life around. I told myself I was going to do the same things she did to win my Dads love and see me for something other than his slave. It didn’t work. Actually, he despised me for it. To him, I came off as trying to be some “holier than thou” teen. Before long, everything was back to normal. The abuse continued and only seemed to escalate.
On my 16th birthday, my biological Dad looked us up in the phone book and called me for the first time since I was very small. So small that I do not even remember He had this big excuse as to why he didn’t contact me over the years. Mainly he finished his time in the army, went wild for some years before settling down and marrying. He bought a home and was raising two step daughters and thought it was finally time to be in my life. At that time, he could have said about anything and won my heart. I wanted out. We started talking a lot after that call and somehow, he convinced my parents into letting him come visit. During his visit, he took me to Old Town and we road rides and went on the sky coaster. It was all I ever dreamed of. Later that evening we talked all about my life and I told him about the abuse. His wife was with us and she could not believe her ears. They asked me how I would feel about coming and staying with them for the summer. Of course, I agreed.
Staying with my real Dad was nothing like I had ever experienced. I was pretty much given free rein to be a real teen. His two step daughters seem cool enough. The oldest one didn’t live with them anymore and the other was just a year younger than me. I thought we would be best friends. I was SO naive. I did not know that she secretly hated me. She hated the thought of me and I was taking away HER Daddy that raised her. My Dad had already told her that I was used to living differently and attended church regularly. She decided she would do her best to corrupt me. Her boyfriend had a car and we started going to parties and having sleep overs at her friends where boys would be. I knew it was all wrong but I kind of liked the feeling of being bad in a way. Still, I kind of sat there watching everyone being an outcast. I dressed differently and spoke differently. I saw the whole world differently than they did. Instead of laughing at me and pushing me away as she hoped, I became the goody two shoes girl everyone went to for advice. Before long, I had a good amount of them going to church with me and even having Bible study with me. Sure, they all got high and even drank while we studied but I was happy they were listening.
My step-sister got furious at how everything was turning out and cried to her Mom about it. I was taking all her friends away from her with my stupid Bible stuff. After that, I was a burden and they wanted me gone. My Dad had enough of it all and one night it came to a head. My step mom left with her daughter and my Dad and I sat around talking about it all. I told him how I was curious to try drinking because everyone seemed to really enjoy it. He broke out a bottle of Jack Daniels and said if I was going to try it, I should do it in a safe environment. Long disgusting story short, the environment was not safe. He tried the worse thing imaginable when I was drunk. Shortly after, I moved in with a boy I had met and became friends with to escape.
I lived with the boy who eventually became my husband for 9 months before giving in and losing my virginity. I was 17 at the time and he was 16. Our very first time I got pregnant with my daughter. I called home to my parents wanting to come home. I was scared to death. My Mom was very angry because I had proven my step-dad right. She said I had to convince him to let me come home. I begged him and told him I would work in the shop without complaining. His words were, “you made your bed and now you’re going to lie in it. I will not help you unless you get married. I won’t have my daughter staying in my house with a child out of wedlock.”
My parents signed off for me to bed wed at the age of 17. I had my daughter a month after my 18th birthday. As expected, the birth of our child did nothing to change my young husband despite my pleas. My parents did move us back to Florida and out a down payment on a single wide trailer for us. Not exactly the dreams I had for my life. My husband could not keep a steady job because all he wanted to do was be a teen. He didn’t want the responsibilities of caring for a family. In a little over 6 months’ time, he had already gone through five different jobs. We were struggling to stay afloat with little to no help from our family. When our daughter was 9 months old, my husband’s Dad and step-mother offered for us to come live with them in Georgia. We packed up our belongings and headed north.
My Father-in-law got my husband a great job at Universal Alloy and to my surprise he kept that job for just over a year. We could save up money to get into a nice two-bedroom apartment. However, our marriage was still very rocky because he could not leave drugs alone. My in-laws, nor I, would allow drugs in the home. My husband would take off on the weekends to hang with his friends leaving me to look after our daughter alone. Not that I had any issues with raising our daughter alone, I was just very lonely and broken inside. My in-laws had two computers in the home. I had barely ever used a computer but I was fascinated with them. I got a library cared and checked out books about computers, web design, programs, etc. The first website I built was in mid-2000. Like a lot of stay at home Moms, I spent a couple hours of my day watching soap operas. One of them being “Days of Our Lives”. My favorite character was Billie Reed played by actress Krista Allen. I decided to build a fan website for her since fan pages and official websites were the new thing in those days. Every major celebrity was getting one and I wanted her to have a site. With the help of a couple friends I met online, we created the biggest fan website for a celebrity on the internet. Just weeks later, I received and email from a woman named Kiki who was the personal assistant for Krista Allen. She wanted to get to know me and work with me on the website. I was thrilled! Up to this point, the only celebs or somewhat famous people I ever met were professional bass fisherman like Roland Martin and Bill Dance. An actor by the name of Marc Macaulay used to go on guide trips with my Dad and he was the first celeb I received and autograph for. At that time, he was most famous for Swamp Thing, Passenger 57, and Wild Things. Marc ended up buying into my Dads lure company and I used to write articles for him and other tournament fisherman in our local newspaper the “Auburndale Star.” It was a fun way to make money when I was a teen. Anyways, after speaking with Kiki several times I received a phone call from Krista Allen herself. We spoke a little over 4 hours our first time. We just hit it off instantly. She decided she wanted me to make the website official and would help me herself to keep it updated. Over time, I was doing loads of online jobs for her and she was referring me to other celebs like David Spade, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, George Clooney, and more. I never got to personally meet any of them but I did get to work for them over the phone doing PR jobs usually involving press releases or website updates. On several occasions, I was employed to track down online celebrity stalkers. That is when I fell in love with investigation work. Since things just kind of fell into my lap and was going so well, Krista helped me create my company which was called Hollyweb Online at the time. In one year, I went from the lonely struggling housewife to a business woman working for public figures and celebs. We were moving on up in the world and for the first time in my life I had high hopes of a bright future.
Unfortunately, my husband thought my success meant he didn’t have to work anymore. He lost his job at Universal Alloy and jumped from job to job. Every time I would receive a decent paycheck, he would spend it before bills were even paid. I did all I could to hide funds but it was a struggle. He got addicted to meth and various substances and stayed gone more than he was home. I poured everything into my business and daughter.
I threatened him that I would leave and move back to Florida with our daughter if he did not straighten up. I laid down some ground rules. One of them being that he had to come to church with me and needed to get involved. To my surprise, he cleaned up for several months. This was probably the best time in our marriage. He stayed clean for about a year. We got involved at our church with activities and sports. My husband even did some side jobs cleaning the church or landscaping for money. One evening after a game, we had some of the teens over at our home with parents. Some of the neighborhood kids/teens that attended our church from time to time was there as well. We had just recently had a break in at our home and I had to report it to the police because jewelry, PlayStation games, etc. were missing. After the party was over, we notice more things missing but nothing of important value so we decided to just keep a better eye out from now on. I can’t remember if it was the next day or the day after, honestly it is all very blurry to me now, but police showed up at my home with a warrant to arrest me. Apparently, a couple of the teen boys that had recently been at my home got caught with having “erotic” photos of me as the police called it. Before I had my daughter, my Husband had taken some promiscuous photos of me when I was just 17. The photos were of my wearing teddies or wrapped in sheets lying on the bed. I wasn’t nude in these photos, I was covered more than what you would see from a swim suit model. However, since the photos were of me lying on our bed and making “sexy poses”, the police saw them as lewd. I was 19 at the time the police arrested me. The boys who stole the photos and were in possession of them were 16 & 17. They also showed a neighborhood boy that was 15. One of the boy’s mother found him with the photos and the boy told his mother I gave them to him. The police searched my home and took photos of where they found the album which was under my bed. I have explained this story many times on podcast, YouTube videos, radio shows, and blogs. My family, friends, and most of my readers are aware of this story. It ended with the case being dismissed and the judge finding no harm done. My state appointed lawyer used the police photos to prove the album was kept in a safe place. The prior break-in proved that the photos could have been taken without my knowledge. It also helped that not soon after my arrest, the main boy who took the photos was arrested for breaking into another home in the neighborhood. The entire experiences were frightening and probably one of the scariest times in my life. It’s been very hard for me to trust police after this incident. I had no idea that this nightmare would come back to haunt me just thirteen years later. More about this later.
A few years later, work had died down some for me. I decided to train to become a massage therapist. It seemed easy enough and I had a friend who was going through the training. It cost $600 and the courses last a few months. After paying the money and taking the courses, we found out it was a scam and we would not receive real certificates. Total bummer! This was another horrible experience that taught me a lot. My husband was now drinking a lot on top of his drug use. I rarely saw him and had to move some friends in with me to keep bills paid. There was also the issue of my Husband stealing money every way he could. Even writing checks from my personal account and signing my name.
One day, after he was gone for a couple weeks, he came home high as a kite with liquor on his breath. I told him I wanted him gone. I had enough and wanted a better life. In anger and rage he forced himself on me. He thought he was going to show me what he had and make me see that I would regret not being with him. Instead, I was sickening and hated him even more than ever. He left me in pain and I had to go to the hospital. After he sobered up, he made me swear not to tell his parents. I promised I wouldn’t if he would just leave. My goal was to save up money and move back to Florida. A month later, I found out I was pregnant with my son. Still very young and scared, I thought I just needed to try harder to keep my husband sober and home. Divorce wasn’t an option in my family’s eyes and his family begged me to keep working on him. They insisted he would eventually grow up and take responsibility. I just had to be patient. Even after the birth of our son, he did not change. He continued to go out and party with his friends and bounce from various jobs. We were now living in a lovely two-story home (that was seriously haunted) but since work wasn’t consistent, I never knew if I could make rent on time. Three friends were living with us to help make bills. He would pop in and out, mainly to sleep off a binge, and then would leave again for days on end.
Finally, he decided he was going to get sober so he could be a good role model for him son. I didn’t have much faith at that time but I knew what the Bible said about forgiveness. All seemed to be going as well as expected, when I found a burnt spoon and needle hidden above our bathroom cabinet while cleaning. I knew it was drug related after looking it up online. I called the police and then I called Department of Children and Families. I wanted him gone for good but did not want to go through what I did the last time I told him to leave. I needed protection. I am so glad I thought to call DFCS at that time or otherwise the police would have arrested both of us. DFCS issued a drug test to both of us and the children right on the spot. Everyone was clean BUT my husband. He was arrested and then ordered to take both parenting classes and drug classes. He lost all rights to our children and was told he would not get them back without completing the mandatory classes. He never completed them.
Since our separation and divorce, he has been arrested more times than I can count. He barely has a relationship with his kids speaking to them over the phone maybe a couple times a year when he is not in jail. They have saw him a handful of times when we visited their grandparents in GA and he makes an appearance. That’s about it.
In 2006, I met my third sons father. I was back living in FL staying with a friend in an apartment. I was mad at God, bitter for everything that happened in my life, and pretty much stopped going to church. I was working part-time at Publix since Hollyweb was still not making enough to live comfortably. One of my co-workers introduced me to her brother and asked if I would go with him as a date to his Christmas work party. He was very flattering and I was very lonely. We hit it off fast and within a couple months we moved in together. I admit, I was very co-dependent for several years. I didn’t like being alone and for some reason felt if I didn’t have a man in my life, I was pathetic. I was embarrassed to be a single Mom. Most likely due to the way I was raised. In my Dad’s eyes, only whores had children without being married. Just three months into dating, he proposed to me and gave me a ring. He told me he wanted to have a child between us and having a baby with him would make him very happy. I had no reason to believe he was lying. I fell hard in love because he was protective, stable, and very funny. Long story short, he left me when I was 7 months pregnant with our son to be with another woman. He forced me to leave our home we had got together so he could move his new woman in. During this time, my Mom & step-Dad had got a divorce. Finally! My Mom was going through this stage of feeling liberated and powerful. We joke now and call it her “man-hating” period. She told me to come stay with her and my little sister. For the first time in my life, I saw a different side of my Mother. She bought me a car and took me shopping for new baby stuff. She bought me a bunch of new church dresses to help give me a fresh start and get my life in order. Krista Allen was not just a client to me at this point. She had become like a sister to me and that is what we called each other. She purchased a crib for my new baby and sent my oldest two a bunch of toys to help get their mind off everything. They had grown very fond of my ex while we were together. He was good to them and nothing like the Dad they remembered. Their hearts were just as broken as mine when he left me for the other woman.
I started attending church again and re-dedicated my life to the Lord. I went into labor when my mother was at work and had a friend drive me to the hospital. Luckily, everyone could arrive before the birth. Things didn’t go as planned though when they lost the babies heart beat and I began bleeding out. I was rushed into an emergency C-section. Let me tell you, it all happened so fast. I can still remember them putting the gas mask over my face and starting to count. I can still feel them cutting into my belly before I passed out completely. It felt like someone had lit my belly on fire. All was well with the baby when I awoke and I had a beautiful 6lb 10oz baby boy. I planned to name him Mason Lee, a name my sister picked out, but somehow his Dad managed to talk me into naming our child after him. Ugh! I was so gullible and still loved him so, I fell for it.
After he got his wish, he couldn’t even be there to take us home from the hospital as he promised. My Mother and friends all called to check on me but I assured them my baby Daddy would be there when it was time for my release. He never showed. I lied to the nurse and said he was in the car waiting for me. I put my son in the car seat and carried him down myself. Because they usually ride women down in a wheelchair, I had to sneak out when they went to get the wheelchair. I drove myself and my baby home that day.
A few months later I attended an Easter party with my children. The party was put on by my baby Daddy’s family and they invited me to meet my son. This is where I met my current husband. I was just getting my life back, work had started to pick up again, I was teaching a class at my church. Then, I meet this handsome man who was drunk and acting the fool. lol. He kept hitting on me but I was not interested no matter how cute I thought he was. Finally, I told him, if he wanted a date with me he had to go to church with me. The following Wednesday night, he asked if he could go to church with me and I agreed. He met my mother and sister and they seemed to like him right away. Of course, I did not tell them he drank. Not only did he drink but, he was an alcoholic and drank every day after work. I told him after everything I went through with my ex-husband, there was no way I would date an alcoholic. We ended up talking for hours and he told me his entire life story. That weekend, we spend time sitting around the campfire with his family and they all vouched that his story was true. They even added some detail he left out. I respected his honesty and was also horrified by the things I heard. He was abused in every way imaginable by his step-father. I felt like I could relate to him on so many levels and now understood why he chose to drink so much. I wanted to help him get through his issues without having to drink. Everyone in my life told me I would fail. His own family told me I would fail. I even believed in the back of my mind that my hero nature didn’t work with my Step-dad, it didn’t work with my Ex Husband so, why would it work with Chad McCaffery. Still, I wouldn’t give up. Jesus wouldn’t give up. Remember the “What Would Jesus Do” trend? It was very popular around this time. Chad told me he suffered from uncontrolled seizures due to his PTSD but I dated him for a few months before ever witnessing one. His family was used to it but, when I saw it happen for the first time, it scared the crap out of me.
After all he had been through, I felt it was so unfair he had to live with the psychological illness. He did stop drinking, completely, he became in active member of our church, and he took my kids in as his own. Especially my youngest son since he was only months old when we met. We married a year after we met. 4 months later, I got pregnant with twins. Within weeks, I found out that I had cancer cells in my lady parts and one of the babies had died. The other baby would not be normal if he/she even made it. The doctors insisted I have a DNC. The cells were removed and we were terribly heart broken. Especially since the DNC took place on my Husbands birthday. His seizures began to happen more often now, probably brought on by the stress. The first handful of times it happened, I would call 911 each time. I didn’t know what to do and wasn’t trained for this. Most the information I found online was about Grand Mal and epileptic seizures. These usually last for less than a minute and typically don’t cause damages. My husbands lasted for up to 20 minutes and sometimes he would have more than one at a time. These caused his disc in his back to bulge, his heart to enlarge, and several bodily injuries. I decided to make it my mission to figure out how I could stop them. The doctors had him on loads of medication and nothing seemed to help.
In 2009, I got pregnant with my youngest son. It was a rough and painful pregnancy. I had my gall bladder removed when I was 5 months along. After my C-section, the doctors insisted I have my tubes tied because another pregnancy might not be safe. I took the doctor’s advice. For three years I traveled around with my family visiting various doctors, therapist, and specialist trying to get a grip on my Husbands seizures. He was approved for disability and had to quit his job. After falling 50 feet off his station in the warehouse he was working at due to a seizure, we knew it would be hard for him to find work. This incident would go on his record and it wasn’t the first time he had a seizure at his job. Finally, after visiting the Emory clinic in Atlanta and having a few sleep studies, he was officially diagnosed with PNES seizures. Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures also known as pseudo seizures. These were without a doubt caused by his 16 years of traumatic emotional, physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. The reason he had more at night while sleeping was due to his dreams.
We weened him slowly off all the anti-convulsion medications and replaced them with anti-anxiety meds. He now has about three a month instead of three a week. In 2013, living in Florida and helping care for my dying Grandmother and friend, I decided I wanted to us my online platform to do something good. My Nana was dying of kidney cancer and my friend was dying of breast cancer. Since I still worked from home running Hollyweb Online, I had free time to be of assistance to both. My Nana was like my best friend and she was always telling me I should share my story and use my experiences to help others. My daughter was dealing with some bullies in middle school for bringing up the Bible and Jesus in class. Her teacher wasn’t helping the situation at all which really had me ticked. My Nana suggested with the help of my friends, I should start an organization against bullying. I did a ton of research about schools allowing bullying to take place and read about hundreds of suicides caused by bullies. I shared my ideas with a friend and we opened “Bullies Keep Out”.
Another friend suggested we open and organization for abused women and children. I told her I had already opened BKO but would love to help her. I built her a website and worked with her in my spare time to create S.A.F.E. Stop Abusive Family Environments. Her mother was a founder of another organization for over 30 years and had a 501c3. They were working to get S.A.F.E. under the umbrella of her mother’s org. I felt so empowered during this time. Like, I was really starting to make a difference in the world. As much as I loved co-founding and running Bullies Keep out, there were so many more topics I wanted to discuss.
As I interviewed people, watched documentaries, and followed the news, bullying felt like such a small issue compared to others. I also felt like most bullying started at the home and was usually linked to domestic violence. I had just signed Actor and TV Host Oliver Trevena as a client and he was the ambassador for NOT FOR SALE, an organization against human trafficking. I looked into them reading everything on their website and watching their videos. I had no idea this type of slavery was taking place today and in the U.S.A. My Dad always warned me of kidnappers and perverts but never did he tell me there was this whole industry of evil people selling children. Now THIS is something I wanted to raise awareness about. If I didn’t know it exist so rampantly, how many others were clueless.
By this time, my friends Dana & Sandra had BKO and S.A.F.E. running smoothly and under control. They didn’t need me anymore so, I decided to launch “No More Victims” with some friends and family. Within a month or two we changed the name to R.I.S.E. & Stand (Reach. Inspire. Support. Empower.) because my client at the time Cali Rosen thought the name kind of victimizes victims. She said we needed something more positive and uplifting. We all agreed. We got off to a rough start. We had to raise the funds to pay for our tax exemption status and to make the company a legitimate charity. I took a few courses in my town about launching non-profits. These courses focused on community service and getting volunteers to help. I wish I never did that lol. Sandra from S.A.F.E. was awarded her umbrella status under her Mom’s organization. They offered to do the same with R.I.S.E. & Stand so we could save money. This was an option we considered for a while. I mainly handled the website, did over the phone mentoring and through email. I also took various courses to teach me more about running an organization. I also had my family, husband, Nana, friend, and business to take care of. That being said, I allowed volunteers to run R&S social media and answer emails. Each of these volunteers were vetted and I still think they were all good people. However, none of us were prepared for online trolls and their twisted games. Almost immediately after the organization was launched we were approved by people requesting help through email and on Twitter. I believe this was due to celebs I work for tweeting about the organization. Some of them even became members and mentioned our org in TV & magazine interviews.
A celebrity can have millions of fans but, they also usually get hundreds if not thousands of haters. A particular celeb I was working with at the time had a group of haters after her. Not long after she tweeted about the help from me and R.I.S.E. & Stand, we all became targets. Every post made by myself or our volunteers was scrutinized. Post & tweets would be taken out of context or our words would be twisted. For instance, a volunteer shared a post made by S.A.F.E. when they received their 501c3 umbrella. The S.A.F.E. team were also doing some weight-loss challenge around the time they received their tax exemption. They chose to throw a party for both their weight-loss goals and for their umbrella status. I think Sandra was even selling some type of supplement like Herbalife to make money for her org. Anyways, on Twitter, S.A.F.E. posted a photo of their team at the party and said they were celebrating the tax exemption. On Facebook, one of the team members shared the same photo but spoke more about weight-loss than the 501c3. Due to this, the trolls suggested it was all a lie and S.A.F.E. was shady. R&S was also shady for promoting and working with them. We were all floored by the allegations. Why didn’t they just look the organization up on Sunbiz.org? Why were they watching everything so closely and jumping to conclusions? Many of our volunteers had never even heard of online trolls. Sure, we all knew there were nasty people out there but not to this extreme. For months, these trolls looked for anything and everything they could use against us.
I had a lot of hookups through Hollyweb that helped me deal with online stalkers and harassment. Crisis control was part of my job for my clients. My R&S volunteers had no idea how any of it worked. It was all Japanese to them but, bless their hearts, they tried their best. I remember at one time, I had a few Twitter reps I worked with personally to help me verify clients a help them remove impersonation accounts. They also helped me often with removing accounts harassing my clients. Now, most of this is done through a portal. Anyways, one of the volunteers tweeted about us working with Twitter to help eliminate a troll. The trolls had a field day with this because in their eyes, this meant we were saying that we literally worked for Twitter which was not the case. It was little things like that where volunteers didn’t know how to say things in the right way or how to handle the troll bashing properly. An allegation would be posted by the trolls and one of the volunteers would call me. I would tell them what we could do about the issue and how I can handle it. My volunteers would then try and reassure clients or people we were helping through R&S that the matter was being handled. But, when they said things like, “Kitty works with Twitter and has asked them to remove the account” it made us come off as if we were deceiving people. At the time, all I could do was work with my Twitter reps to handle these issues.
Eventually, to stop these types of issues from happening, I had to do away with most of my volunteers and only allow actual team members to run the social media. To this day, our social media is operated by Oscar Ponce, Randall Lee, Jordan Clark, Selena Flesher, and myself.
I heard horror stories about the Government involving themselves in organizations that had a 501c3. We decided to only register our non-profit through the state rather than getting a 501c3. Because of this, our lovely trolls thought we must be stealing donations or mishandling our funds. One of them called the IRS on us and another contacted GoFundMe.com to report us. We checked out with both GoFundMe and the IRS. For three years we have dealt with online trolling stemmed by one person who hated my affiliation with actress Kristen Johnston. I thought when I stopped working with Johnston that it would stop. I thought when the IRS & GoFundMe assured them that nothing was amiss the trolling would stop. That was not the case. This story deserves an entire blog so I will save the rest for the upcoming blog.
My Nana passed away in December 2014. I also lost my close friend to the breast cancer. It sent me into a deep depression and caused a lot of issues between my husband and me. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE. They also found degenerative disc disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, and ortho-arthritis. All these issues were really messing with my adrenal glands. After years of taking care of others, I needed someone to take care of me. I stayed sick A LOT. This was not something my Husband or my kids was used to. Everyone was used to Mommies dinners, Mommies attention, and Mommies constant work. Some days I could not even get out of bed. I think I had the disease for a few years prior to diagnosis but it hit me like a ton of bricks after losing my Nana.
Lupus has caused me so many changed in my body. One of the ways they treat it is with steroids which causes you to gain weight. My weight fluctuates back and forth constantly. I have major hormone imbalances and at times feel like I just want to die. However, my church, my kids, and my organization keeps me fighting. Over the 16 years I have had my company, I have learned an awful lot about the inner workings of Hollywood from clients. That is why in early 2016, I decided to change my company name from Hollyweb Online to McCaffery Media.
Hollywood used to mean to me a place where people went with talent or beauty to make their dreams come true. The perfect American dream for so many. You could be dirt poor and become wealthy just doing what you love. Dolly Parton, Elvis, Loretta Lynn, their stories inspired me and made me want to be a part of it. I am way too shy to become a professional singer myself, I can’t act, and I no longer have the looks to be a model. Nevertheless, I wanted to help make other dreams come true. Every time I heard Krista or another client tell me how I made a dream possible for them due to my hard work, it made me feel important. I was told my entire childhood that I was worthless, unimportant, just another mouth to feed, etc. Now, I was doing something I loved to do that allowed me to still be home with my kids, and I got be a blessing in someone’s life.
After working with various public figures over the years I learned Hollywood and fame wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Another issue my conspiracy loving Father never told me about. I do know though, that many people can live their dream without being sucked in to the dark side of Hollywood. I have watched it happen time and time again. I work with clients who are making big and never even stepped foot in Hollywood. I focus on a lot of independent artist now and help them reach their full potential. I love it and it supports my family. Recently, the trolls have reemerged with a new group supporting them. This is partly because I never had the blogs made about me removed. I did call the local authorities when my children were attacked online by the trolls but they said it was a civil matter. I contacted the FBI’s online cyber unit and once again they said this was more of a civil issue. I was going to get a lawyer in 2015 to handle it but the lawyer fees were unreal for me at the time. I decided the best way to combat the harassment was with the truth. So, I just faced it all head on.
I tend to get several months of peace before my work ticks someone off again and the old troll blog about me is found. This time, I lost some friends who decided instead of coming to me for proof and answers, they would talk behind my back and spread the lies. I have had enough. Now, I have paid for a lawyer and are handling things in the proper way. No one will stop me from doing what I know is right in my heart. No one will take away this dream from me. For the first time in my life, I finally feel like I am doing what God intended me to do. I help people. It makes me happy and helps me through my own personal grief and daily pains.
The Bible says,
2 Timothy 3:12 – Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
John 15:18 – If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you.
Matthew 5:44 – But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
1 Peter 3:16 – Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
Matthew 5:10 – Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 6:22 – Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you [from their company], and shall reproach [you], and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
1 John 3:13 – Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
When I read those verses, I know that these people are just lead by darkness to try and extinguish my light. I am in no way perfect. I have flaws and I make mistakes. I try to do the best I can and it is my mission to never give up on people in need.
Note: Additional blogs about my husband passed and the trolls against Rise & Stand coming soon.