you make some very good points, tohui! and -yes- you make a lot of sense to me.
i used to try to imagine what i would have been like without the abuse - and it is impossible - like saying who would i be if i had different parents - it is a meaningless question. i wouldn't be myself. i would be someone totally different.
maybe because it started when i was 5 - but i don't know if you can put an age limit on development and say - anything after a certain point would have had a predictably life-changing effect - or not.
what i have concluded - is that for nearly every negative result - there has also be a positive one that at least partially helped to balance it.
because i felt like a helpless victim - i now have a keen sense of justice and sympathy for the underdog.
because i was hurt physically and emotionally - i now am sensitive to other's pain and suffering.
because i was very self-focused, introverted and analytical - i can now empathize with others and understand their experiences and feelings.
because i was confused and overwhelmed - i now have a strong drive to understand cause and effect and can often intuitively figure out connections.
because i was subjected to violence, contempt, rejection and disrespect - i have always tried not to give offense, to treat others with respect, acceptance, kindness and consideration.
even the sexual guilt, shame and negative associations - have ensured that i never victimized, used or degraded anyone else in that way.
so - though i would NEVER say that i am thankful for the abuse i experienced, i would say that i am very aware that it has had a major influence upon who i am now - and i AM becoming more and more self-accepting and content with who i am. i also know that there were long stretches of time when i was very dysfunctional and there wasn't much evidence of any of those positive traits. it is a long process - and i am glad i have had the time and help of others to get to this place.
"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself... And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity." - Paulo Coelho