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 ArmingWomen 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 instructors will be volunteers, to make classes more affordable, but will have the highest quality training, knowledge and experience.
- AWARE will never sell or share information about our students or others who contact us with any other organization.
She found a small group of people who shared her vision to become officers board members, and instructors. Learn more about them on the Our People page.
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.
Our course structure and content continue to evolve, and we always offer the highest quality training and information to our students.
Eventually, Nancy decided to move out of Massachusetts. Our dedicated group of board members and instructors 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.