A Syracuse native is launching Breaking Stalking in the beginning of the year to coincide with the 20th annual Stalking Awareness Month.

Thirteen years ago, Stefania Ianno says she had a stalker in her life during her time in graduate school while she was studying to become a marriage and family therapist. 

“It was someone I went on a few dates with and then I kindly let him down and said I wasn’t interested in a romantic relationship but we remained friends,” Ianno said.

But little did she know that her rejection would turn into retaliation. 

“Then someone I know had talked to me and said this other person was doing all these weird things and talking to them about it,” Ianno said. “They were saying they had a code name for me and were maybe sometimes following me and doing all of these things.” 

She even says she got word that he was planning to purchase a gun with a silencer and that there may have been a GPS tracker on her car. 

“I brought it to a car shop, and they lifted it up and they found the device,” Ianno said.

She took the device to the police, but was still concerned. 

“That night they had put me up in a hotel to remain safe because he had been talking about guns,” Ianno said. “Essentially, they arrested this person for a day, brought him up on charges of fourth-degree stalking and put an order of protection in place for myself.” 

She says that experience changed the trajectory of her life. Now, she is speaking out. 

“I decided that it was finally time to leave my job and take that leap of faith to start this business so I can do just that, educate the community and provide more resources and be a resource for people and businesses and for organizations who might want that education and really need the education so they can recognize if it’s happening in their community and what to do,” Ianno said.

Now that she is going to be in the public eye, she is aware that he may see this. 

“It’s definitely something I’ve thought about and I fully am aware that the platform will be in the public eye and on social media and hopefully I branch out across New York state and the nation as well,” Ianno said. “I have thought about it, but I think it’s a risk I’m willing to take because I believe so strongly in the work and in informing the public and helping people.” 

The platform will launch this January, and she will be able to service various organizations, schools and community members. 

“Even though I’m just one person, I think I can make a difference and I want to make a difference in the lives of our local community to keep everyone just a little bit more safe,” Ianno said.

Ianno says listening to your instincts and educating yourself can make all the difference.

Breaking Stalking will be launched at One Group in Syracuse from 5 to 7 p.m.