By Alyssa Hussein, Social Media Volunteer at WomanACT
On January 25, 2015 83-year-old Zdenka Sekora was smothered and killed by her 79-year-old husband, Robert Edgar. They had been married for 32 years. Robert called the police claiming that his wife had endured an “accidental death”. However, the autopsy later revealed that Zdenka had been smothered to death. Robert Edgar was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and sentenced to ten years in prison.
Zdenka and Robert met in the 1980s in Montreal, days after the death of his first wife. He promised her a car, a house and Air Canada employee privileges, where he worked at the time. Zdenka’s daughter, Tereza Sernets, recalls feeling frightened of her stepfather Robert at the age of 19. He taunted and chased her. In her emotional impact statement she demonstrated regret for not sharing these sentiments with her mother. Her step-son, Nicholas shared similar sentiments of horror in response to what happened to his vibrant, warm and nurturing step-mother.
This incident is unfortunately not a unique story. Domestic violence, including among the elderly, is a prevalent issue that carries concerns of its own. Late life domestic violence requires awareness and resources that are contextual. Elderly women and women in rural communities are particularly vulnerable to violence. The isolation and inability to access resources as freely, and as targeted, make it difficult for the elderly and the isolated to reach out for assistance.
A report on Elder Abuse claims that, “an estimated 2 million people a year are victims of elder abuse, which ranges from neglect and mistreatment to physical abuse.” This shocking number and loss of a wonderful woman, demonstrates the necessity for a call to action. In addition to resources available for woman who have experienced domestic violence, there needs to be resources that specialize in late life domestic violence, to provide protection and assistance to elderly women who are in abusive relationships.
In addition to resources, family and friends are needed as support. This is especially essential when it comes to elderly spousal violence, as longer relationships may encourage women to stay silent and defend their abuser. Understanding victim’s situations and providing help and support in an understanding manner is essential.
Today, one year after the death of Zdenka Sekora, we would like to remember the unfortunate death she endured, and hope to provide greater awareness of late life domestic violence.
Special thanks to OAITH for putting together the Annual Femicide List. Since 1995 The Ontario Association of Interval and Transitional Housing began collecting the names of women, and their children, murdered by their intimate partners, as a way to remember victims, honour their lives and advocate for meaningful change.