Raised by what he calls a "brutally abusive" grandmother, Joey Primak found refuge with his professional boxer father.
"I grew up around the boxing game," he said. "It was being around that fight community that I learned a sense of purpose. It empowered me."
Dabbling first in street gangs, Primak eventually pursued kick-boxing and later became a professional wrestler.
Now an ordained pastor, he wants to share what he's learned with those is similar circumstances through his faith-based program Fighters Against Child Abuse.
Working out of the Carson City Boxing Club, the nonprofit organization - made up of martial artists, boxers, cage fighters and wrestlers - will offer free mentoring and boxing classes to abused, neglected and impoverished children.
Primak said the focus of the classes won't be self-defense, but creating self-esteem.
"We don't want them to be timid the rest of their lives," he said. "We don't want them to fear. It helps them overcome the things they've gone through."
Primak said counseling is available for entire families, including adults abused as children.
"Can we stop abuse from happening? No." he said. "Can we prevent subsequent attacks? Yes. We try to get the family on a healing path."
Primak said he is regularly contacted by adults who suffered abuse as children and never spoke about it.
He's hoping his experience will help prevent another generation from going through the same thing.
"Sometimes they need somebody who truly gets what they're going through," he said. "Talking to somebody who has been through it and survived it is a big help to them. We want to help them recover as quickly as possible."
Primak said his relationship with his son, Noah, is a testament to the fact that the cycle of abuse can be broken.
The program kicks off Monday and Primak hopes it becomes a model for similar programs across the country.
"I grew up with the fight game, and I suffered abuse," he said. "It seems like the perfect fit."