THE BLOG
11/11/2013 12:39 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

3 Ways Abuse Changed Me for the Better

Yes, I was abused as a child. And no, I'm not going to go into it here.

What I am going to do is talk about some ways that the experience changed me for the better. Not that I think anyone should ever be abused to receive any personal benefits. It's just that since it did happen, I've examined my life and found that there were some positive outcomes from the negative experiences.

A Greater Sensitivity to Others Who Have Been Abused

My life history has resulted in me being very sensitive to others who are and/or were mistreated by parents, spouses or others. I can feel the pain of these people and am more understanding when they exhibit negative features, such as losing their tempers easily.

For example, I once had a supervisor who would sometimes fly off the handle at the smallest provocation. Since her anger was at times directed toward me, this upset me very much. As a result of my childhood experiences, I'm actually afraid of people when they get angry.

Then, one evening, when I invited this woman to dinner at my house, she opened up and told me about her childhood experiences. It seemed that a man her mother once dated was quite abusive to her mother.

After I learned that, I became more tolerant toward her when she lost her cool. Not that her stormy behavior was acceptable at work, but I did understand where it came from. After that, I at least stopped taking her ranting personally. I actually felt sorry for her when she expressed anger in such a heated way.

And I tend to feel the same way when others who've been abused (or witnessed the abuse of a loved one) get so angry.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

Not only did I develop a greater sensitivity to people who've been abused, I've put my money where my mouth is. I've put the Cincinnati Children's Hospital's Mayerson Center for Child Abuse in my will. This is obviously a cause about which I care deeply.

I want to help in any way I can. I feel great empathy for any children who are going through what I experienced -- or even worse. If my money can help in any way possible then that's what I want to do.

I once thought about volunteering with some organization focusing on abused children, but unfortunately, I realized it would probably upset me terribly -- force me to relive my own past. So, I have avoided that. Instead I volunteer to visit people with dementia at a local memory care facility. People with Alzheimer's are another deep cause of mine.

Finding a Loving Man With Whom to Make my Life

In all too many instances, people (mostly women) who were abused as children end up choosing abusive spouses. And many times they also abuse their own children. And so abuse becomes a vicious cycle.

I, however, was able to escape this pattern. I found a wonderful Romanian, Edward Theodoru, to be my life partner for 30 years.

Ed was considerably older than I and actually functioned in part as the loving father I never had. In fact, once I told him about the abuse I'd suffered at my father's hand and he burst into tears.

And so there you have it. One man being vicious; the other so empathic he actually cried just hearing about it. That's why I selected Ed to be my soul mate. And soul mate he was. I was completely devoted to him, and he, to me.

Marie Marley is the award-winning author of the uplifting book, Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer's and Joy, available on Amazon and at her website - ComeBackEarlyToday.com