Off the Ropes: My Story

Off the Ropes: My Story



About the book

  • Beatrice Mosionier Aboriginal Writer of the Year Award Runner-up
  • John C. Maxwell Leadership Award
  • TJ's Gift Foundation Champion Award

Off the Ropes is now available as an ebook from Signature Editions. The print version of this book is available from J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing:

Having been sexually abused by a boxing coach as a teen, and not knowing who to trust or tell, Roland Vandal found solace in drugs and alcohol. His battle with addiction, and his unwillingness to speak of his demons, led to failed relationships, bad choices, crime, trouble with the law, and PTSD. After a night of partying with friends in 2001, Roland found himself alone in a Winnipeg hotel and attempted suicide. When he woke, plagued by guilt and shame at what he'd done, he knew he had hit bottom. He dialled the phone and sought help.

Clean and sober for over a decade, Roland is now living a life he never dreamed possible. Filled with moments of humour, sorrow, despair, and triumph over adversity, Off the Ropes tells his story in the raw, from the abuse, to his addictions, to his successes in business and as a motivational speaker and advocate.

About the author

Vandal, Roland

Roland Vandal is a former boxer and business owner. His battle with addiction and his ongoing struggle with PTSD has led him to become a crusader for mental health awareness and a dedicated advocate to end bullying and abuse. A much sought-after motivational speaker, he has performed over 700 speaking engagements.  He has been the subject of numerous documentaries, including The Wounded Healer and Filling the Void. He was selected as one of “Manitoba’s Top 40 Leaders” by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, one of “Manitoba’s Finest” by the Kidney Foundation, one of the “Top Most Fascinating People in Manitoba” by the Metro newspaper, and one of the “Top 100 Speakers and Community Leaders in Canada and the US.” He was given the Champion Award by TJ’s Gift Foundation, and the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award. Roland lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.


from Introduction

Hi. I'm Roland.

You know, life has always seemed impossible for me.

I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the result of chronic abuse which began when I was a teenager. I would bet if anyone were to ask my principals, teachers, coaches, or family, they would all tell you the same thing: "Something wasn't right with Roland. We just didn't know what."

I went many years without help. My moods became uncontrollable. Fueled by alcohol and whatever drugs I could get my hands on, my seething anger boiled over and came out in the form of rage.

Today, I still feel as if I'm too damaged to make it in this world, but my bottom was so bad … I can't go back.

I can't go back.

I am still conflicted about who to trust, and I consistently try to figure out who my real friends are. Thoughts that people are plotting behind my back or talking about me negatively run through my head when I think too much.

I'm nothing. I'm a nobody.

Shut up, brain.

I can stop that thought pattern by looking at reality. A lot of people love and care for me, and I have to believe those people can't be wrong. I must be worth it. I must be something.

Why couldn't anyone see the signs of what I was going through? Why didn't I tell anyone? It is my hope this book will provide some insight into the signs of abuse or neglect. Hopefully the words on these pages are a gateway. Hopefully my story can help prevent abuse before it happens. Hopefully my story helps readers get the courage to ask questions, or ask for help if needed. No matter what the problem is, no one should have to suffer in silence.

My name is Roland, and I'm an alcoholic. And an addict.

But most importantly, I'm a survivor.

This is my story.

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