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.
We are often troubled, but not crushed;
sometimes in doubt, but never in despair;
there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend;
and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.
- Paul, II Cor 4:8-9