The 34-year-old Australian of The Year told The Australian Women's Weekly how an abusive relationship between his stepfather and mother would keep him awake at night as a boy in country Victoria.
"I would be kept awake by their fighting and I'd climb out of my window at night to call police to get them to stop fighting and screaming," he says.
His mother Lisa Sansbury, 55, told The Weekly how she decided to leave the relationship for the sake of herself and her three boys – instead raising them on her own.
"I broke the cycle for the sake of my children," she says. "I wanted my boys to grow up and have a normal life. It was the best decision I ever made."
She also talks about her pride in Adam, not only for his success on the football field but as a White Ribbon ambassador, powerful role model and tireless community worker.
In turn, Adam credits the women who have shaped his life - his mother and aunties - for giving him a strong sense of empathy and the discipline to make it to the top.
In the interview, he also talks about tackling racism, being made Australian of The Year, confronting men who could become abusive, his female friends and why he feels his life has been lucky.
Adam says his early experiences with domestic violence have also shaped how he approaches his personal life. "I've never wanted relationships to look or feel like that," he says.