Written by: Abra Garrett
“There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.” ~W.E.B. Dubois
Photo credits: Derek Blanks
As anyone who has overcome great trauma can attest to, the process of healing is not linear. It is a complex trajectory of moving forward, then backwards, many times, as one works to reconcile their past and restore their faith in themselves and their future. Trauma is frequently passed down through generations, in the form of expectations, up-bringing, attitudes, behavior, and even genetics. Dr. Catrina Pullum not only overcame her own adversity and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but she also broke the chains that bound her to her past suffering and destructive patterns – and she now does the same for others. Hence, her moniker as “The Chain Breaker” came about as a tribute to her fortitude and tenacity. “A Chain Breaker,” Dr. Pullum explains, “is someone who does not allow their past to define them.”
As a child of only 8 years old, Dr. Pullum was sexually abused by a man at her church. His overtures were seemingly innocent at first – a tickle, a hug – but as often happens with abusers, once he established trust, he escalated to exploitation and molestation. At such a young age, Dr. Pullum could not even understand, let alone articulate, what had happened to her. This led her to destructive coping mechanisms such as drinking daily. At 16 years old she found herself pregnant.
Fortunately, Dr. Pullum had a supportive family, and she was able to remain at college while raising her son. In school, however, her drinking continued, and one night, she drank so much she ended up with a bout of alcohol poisoning so severe she believed herself to be on the brink of death. Although this horrifying incident cured her of her drinking, it was not until about 10 years later when she started to deal with her past abuse. Dr. Pullum earned a degree in college as a forensic investigator and for many years she dedicated her life to investigating and fighting on behalf of children who were victims of abuse. Even still, she had not yet fully come to terms with her own history of abuse. One day, a friend called her and told her, “God has put it upon me to tell you: it’s time to share your story.” Although this friend did not know Dr. Pullum’s background, Dr. Pullum knew what she was meant to share. Thus, her reconciliation with her own past came in the form of writing a book about overcoming, called, very appropriately, Breaking the Chains.
Since her book has come out, she has worn many hats, moved effortlessly between various industries, and most importantly, inspired countless others. Today, Catrina Pullum knows that the suffering she endured is something she can utilize as a catalyst to motivate others to search for their own means of healing. She celebrates herself and other women by honoring the innate tenacity and fortitude that accompanies being a survivor, overcoming the odds, and proving that chains can, indeed be broken – and that those who break them can SOAR!