AWARE was started in the 90’s by Nancy Bittle, an engineer at one of the most prestigious high tech companies on the Boston, Massachusetts area, who was also the survivor of a particularly brutal crime which had shown her how inadequate much of the information being given women about self-protection was.

She became quite expert about what works, and what doesn’t, in serious crime attacks, became an outspoken advocate for firearms for protection, and determined to start a non-profit organization to teach other women about effective protection. Nancy wanted the name of the new group to be “We are AWARE”, with AWARE being an acronym. Several full names were considered. it came down to two, one without any connotation of guns, the other Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment. The latter was finally chosen, because, as Nancy said, “A woman can, and indeed should, be armed with courage, determination, spirit, and knowledge, whether or not she is armed with anything else.” That became one of AWARE’s founding principles. Other principles, started then and held to this day, are:
  • AWARE is an educational organization, not a political one.  
  • AWARE will offer information and education about a wide range of self-protection options, not just guns.  
  • AWARE will never sell or share information about anyone who contacts us with any other organization.

Eventually, Nancy decided to move out of Massachusetts. Our dedicated group of board members carries on her vision, with special expertise in combating stalking, and deep experience in training women to use guns to protect themselves and their families.

Courses were developed and offered which ranged from the standard NRA Basic Pistol and Home Firearms Safety, to Pepper Spray, Persuader, Basic Shotgun, Defensive Shotgun, Weapon Retention and Disarming, the Responsible Use of Lethal Force, Defensive Handguns, and a general Assault Prevention presentation.

AWARE has written several amicus briefs for legal cases involving situations about firearms.  A few years ago  a Massachusetts woman, Jaime Caetano,  was arrested for having a stun gun in her purse that she was using to protect herself from her ex.  Stun gun and Tasers were illegal in MA.  Her case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and AWARE participated by providing an amicus brief.   In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that ““the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.”  Stun guns and Tasers should now be legal everywhere, thanks in part to AWARE’s efforts.

In early 2000’s, a decision was made to stop teaching courses and concentrate instead on providing the best information we could on our website.

The website now includes legal articles from two lawyers associated with AWARE and articles from Women&Guns magazine by Lyn Bates.