I know of a few members here on TA that have endured parental abuse in various guises. It has been discussed in the past and varied in degree from constant verbal abuse to extreme physical and / or sexual abuse. I am not trying to create a “scale of abuse” here. Would you like to make it clearer if the abuse was sexual or if it was physical punishment? What one person might call minor abuse could have a very detrimental impact on their life that another person might shrug off.
I have helped some victims of clerical sexual abuse to get professional counselling. They all said that speaking with others who experienced similar abuse gave them the freedom and confidence to speak more openly about it. It empowered them. They now consider themselves survivors rather than victims. It was not something that happened overnight. Rather it took a few years to get to a place where they would not be constantly aware of it. In that time all other aspects of their lives improved.
Personally I think going to a support group (even in a different area) might be the better place to start. Everyone in the room will have at some point blamed themselves for what happened. That is how abusers work to keep control. I have even heard a priest claim that he thought what he was doing (to the 8 year old) was consensual. He would scare the child into believing his parents would send him away and would also give him sweets and money to instil a sense of something mutually agreed to and normal had happened. Even in his late twenties he still thought nobody would believe him and that no other victims existed. Through counselling it turned out that there were over 15 other victims. The pattern was almost identical and all of them felt a degree of blame for allowing it to happen.
Have you ever confronted the parent about the abuse? How long since the last episode and do you still have contact with them. Do you have siblings in a similar position?
It is difficult to know what to say without many details. If it helps to discuss something here please feel free to do so. It might be good a starting point for you. I suppose you have already started the process by posting about it! However I think you should consider a more structured approach where you meet with a counsellor who has the professional framework to help already in place. They exist to help you. You are not alone.
I'm no therapist, or anything but I've found that the only thing that the subconscious will listen to is tangible, physical proof. I'm guessing that in your case your subconscious has internalised 1) self-blame; 2) lack of self-worth; 3) anger; 4) lack of control over your environment.
So one of the best therapies is to mix with healthy people who love you, and [no accusation intended - I don't know you] try not to fuck it up by treating them terribly. It sounds like you have a healthy attitude anyway. The big danger from a terrible upbringing is to get a personality disorder, but this depends on genes as well as environment, so if you don't have the genes, you won't get the disorder (according to what I know). Look at your family: are there other people in it like your dad? You don't sound like him.
3) and 4) can perhaps be helped by taking a relaxed attitude, which takes strength.
Many people turn these circumstances into altruism and fair-play - what I mean is they turn into some kind of white knight (genuinely) in determination not to repeat all the ugliness they've been through - and everyone loves them for it.
Thanks for sharing that Tom