FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The disturbing story of a Fayetteville woman stabbed to death by her husband left residents in the area shaken, and questioning how a harrowing case of domestic violence could happen in their own backyard.
Friends and neighbors of the victim, Tanisha Raeford, told ABC11 they never would have expected something to go so wrong between her and her husband, John Lee Douglas. They frequently described Douglas and Raeford as "the perfect couple," causing them to be shocked by the way the two died.
Police said moments after fatally stabbing Raeford in the chest inside their home on Shiloh Court Monday night, Douglas drove his car into a parked 18-wheeler by A.B. Carter Road and John B. Carter Road. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Domestic violence experts say individuals in abusive relationships often hide the serious problems happening behind closed doors from the outside world.
"Frequently what other people see is not the reality," Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence Carianne Fisher said. "That what the abusive person portrays and what they (the victim), they're also feeling they have to portray to people on the outside is that everything's perfect, when often there's hidden types of abuse and signs of abuse which can include things like controlling money, controlling the ways in which the partner interacts with other people."
Fisher and other local experts say there is a laundry list of places victims can go to for support in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. Agencies include the Care Center for Domestic Violence, Legal Aid of Cumberland County, Safelink, and the Community Services office at Fort Bragg.
There is also the Phoenix Center and the Cumberland County magistrate's office where victims can seek out help.
Fisher urges victims of domestic violence to seek out a network of support and to create a strategy to leave with others well in advance.
"Exiting isn't always the safest thing for someone. anyone who is experiencing abuse is the expert on their situation," Fisher said. "So the key thing is to safety plan, and there are experts who can do that. There are domestic violence service providers and communities who are available to reach out."
Experts also say anyone who suspects that a loved one is in an abusive relationship should confront them privately away from the suspected abuser to get that person to safety. Asking directly whether the person is being abused is not the best way to approach the situation.
"It's helpful to say, you know, 'Are you safe?'" Fisher said. "If you say, 'Are you being abused?' they may not realize they're being abused. They may not name it as abuse, but they may admit to you that they don't always feel safe."
The National Domestic Violence hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7293)
The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 919-956-9124
Fayetteville, Cumberland County
Army Community Services: 910-322-3418 / 910-396-5521
Cumberland County Sheriff: 910-323-1500
Victim Assistance: 910-677-5454
Cumberland Co. District Attorney: 910-475-3010
Cumberland Co. Family Court: 910-475-3015
Fayetteville Police Department: 910-433-1530
Victim Assistance: 910-433-1849
Domestic Violence Safelink Office: 910-475-3000
Legal Aid - Cumberland County: 910-483-0400
Local Domestic Violence Center: 910-677-2532
Quaker House (Military Advocate): 910-323-3912
Phoenix Center: 910-485-7273
Hope Mills Town Hall (E-file): 910-424-4555
Or click on the Fayetteville city website.