I did have a hard childhood, fundamentalist family, father randomly disappeared, mother who never cared, raised by a few different people, secret siblings, physically abused, sheltered, running away, alone most often, social services, anxiety disorders and depression, meeting my father and siblings at 14, got a full time job on top of school and left at 15, father disappearing again at 17...
There's your overview. I could write a hub on this. I like your question, here's me trying to answer it. I was in an extremely abusive relationship for 6 years, and didn't recognize the signs until it was [too late] , since the abuse was nothing compared to my childhood, and it spiraled from there. I think if I had not been abused as a child, maybe I wouldn't have been so ok with the way he treated me initially. I know previous abuse isn't a pre-requisite for later abuse, I just think mine made it easier to accept the latter.
Since I was so sheltered and brainwashed, no tv or radio, put through extensive 'christian training'.. by the time I hit the real world, (high school) I was blind sighted by everyone. I didn't know people would lie and cheat and steal from you. I trusted everyone, and sincerely thought everyone was the same as me. No one ever told me to watch out for people hurting me, or how people should treat me. Reality is a huge, overwhelming slap in the face when you wander into it unprepared.
I was naive and gullible. Because I was held back so much as a kid, when I finally got the chance to live, it was like a flood gate burst. No one told me about things like drugs or alcohol growing up.
All of this, while giving me some issues, has indeed made me a better person, because that's the way I chose to deal with it (admittedly, medication helped). I'm 28 now and I stand up for myself, speak my mind, question everything, rarely trust anyone (maybe not so good), have a contained thirst for experience, have a thirst for knowledge, I appreciate the people close to me, I have a good sense of humour, and I'm raising my son to be a fully functional member of society, who has confidence, knowledge, as much logic as a kid can have, and knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is loved.