Barbara Pittman was once a young woman caught in an abusive marriage. Now every day, she relives those memories while she counsels others—she volunteers as an advocate for abused women and their children.
Pittman has also had to overcome skin cancer. The battle she fought with the disease resulted in her having to rebuild her face, which included reconstructing her nose. She was still determined to continue to make an impact and change people’s lives. After earning a BS in Psychology, Pittman became a domestic violence counselor, shelter manager, and hotline coordinator for a local battered women’s shelter. She also worked with other domestic violence organizations and used her story to communicate to others that it is possible to escape violence and be happy.
Pittman co-chaired the Formerly Battered Women’s Task Force of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and served on the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Task Force for Mandated Counseling for Batterers. She is also a member of the Coalition for the Right to Live in Peace and continues to be an advocate for women on both the state and national level.
Because she was able to leave a bad situation and start over, Pittman’s story seems quite remarkable. However, she not only wanted to make life better for herself and her family; she chose to help others end abusive cycles and begin to live freely and feel good about themselves. She and her new husband, Scot, founded the Street Clothes Project to make positive changes in the lives of families moving from a life of dependence to independence. The program provides casual and work clothing as well as personal care items to men, women, and children. Some may have just been released from jail, ending a drug or alcohol treatment, or leaving a transitional housing program. Pittman also runs a 13-week support group for women in prison who have fought back in self-defense.
Barbara Pittman’s story was included in a book called The Courage to Give ™:Inspiring Stories of People Who Triumphed Over Tragedy to Make a Difference in the World in 1999. During the past two years, Pittman has served as Verizon Wireless’ national spokesperson for Domestic Violence. In the early spring, she brought the people featured in the books The Courage to Give ™ and Teens With the Courage to Give ™ to Philadelphia for a conference on volunteerism. All the proceeds from her story are being used for domestic violence initiatives in Philadelphia. In addition to this, she is planning a “Race to End Domestic Violence” for October of 2001.
Barbara Pittman received the Peabody Award in 1986, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Pace Award for 1999 and 2000, the Liberty Bell Award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association in 1999 and the Women’s Way Local Honoree Award in 2001.