People who grow up having to deal with traumatic households develop keen emotional understanding of others (and often themselves), sensitivity, and capacity for sympathy. This is often a survival technique - not necessarily physical survival, but emotional survival; at the least, it's necessary for happiness in a chaotic or stressful situation. If you get to really understand how the (for example) drunk, abusive father will behave when he smells like X and looks like Y, you can avoid much trauma.
This also lends great skills for (for example) writing or politicking, as you can imagine.
The down-side is that such people often feel much more pain in life than those who didn't grow up in that environment; for some, seeing pain in others actually feels like pain. When Clinton said, "I feel your pain," he might have been talking literally. When I was young, I experienced a period of severe depression after some pretty normal personal problems... but those problems aren't what put me over the edge, it was discovering that the world is full of pain and suffering: I had learned that all of those close to me had experienced abuse, much of it really severe, and I had witnessed some of it. Experiencing their pain - witnessing it, especially - caused me such sadness that I could barely manage once my own life went to pieces.
Does that sound familiar to you? Those of you who don't feel this way, does this make sense to you?