Wis. First Lady Tonette Walker hosts Norwegian government delegation, discusses trauma-informed care

MILWAUKEE -- Don’t ask what’s wrong with you, ask rather what happened to you —that’s a phrase at the heart of a new way to treat children who experience trauma or other violence in their life. 

Thursday morning, First Lady Tonette Walker hosted the Norwegian government delegation for breakfast, where they discussed the approach known as “trauma-informed care”.

The approach is all about shifting perspective, and champions of the treatment, like President and CEO of Unison, Laurie Lambach, said instead of asking what’s wrong with a person, the goal is to understand what happened to them in their childhood. 

“[It's about] coming to understand how those events are affecting people’s lives today and how that information can be used so people can create a future that’s different than their present," Lambach said. 

The work Lambach and dozens of others are doing now has a global appeal. At Thursday's breakfast, the visiting government delegation from Norway met to study how Wisconsin organizations are working to apply the principals of trauma-informed care into the delivery of human services. 

“We have all these people here today who want to help and get the word out to change the city of Milwaukee and change nationally and globally," Alisha Fox said. 

Fox was raped and sexually abused by her father from age 4 to 14, and knows first hand about trauma. But she’s also spent a lot of time unpacking her pain using the principals of trauma-informed care and she hopes to encourage others to do the same. 

“This is real and something needs to be done about it," Fox said. 

"And if we can get enough people to do this, and to help out as a community and everybody come together, this world would be a better place," she continued.  

Leaders in the field estimate —so far— more than 50,000 people in Wisconsin have been trained in the principals of trauma-informed care, and they hope that number only gets bigger. 

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