Fil-Am author on a mission to help domestic violence survivors

SAN FRANCISCO – When it was released back in 2013, Marivi Soliven hoped her novel “The Mango Bride” would help raise awareness about the plight of immigrant women who face abuse from their husbands.

After winning the Palanca Award which is the Philippine’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for literature, along with deals to publish “The Mango Bride” in Spanish and Tagalog – the San Diego-based author has now gone a step further.

She is reaching out to real-life immigrant victims of domestic violence whose hopes for US citizenship are threatened by their abusive partners.

“Filipino women a lot of times grew up with this information that marriage is what you make of it and you endure whatever trials come your way that this is your cross to bear,” said Soliven. “So when this go awry in the relationship, they keep it to themselves because it’s embarrassing for them.”

According to the Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, 20 percent of undocumented Filipino women surveyed in the Bay Area reported being victims.

Soliven based the book on real phone calls she took while working in the San Francisco Bay Area as a Tagalog interpreter for a domestic violence hotline.

That’s why she’s so passionate about this event at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco called “Saving Beverly” which was named after a main character in her book.

It’s a fundraiser to pay for legal fees and other services for immigrant women escaping abusive situations.

“I feel that I reached out to somebody I may not ordinary make contact with,” said Soliven.

Former US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. fought hard against human trafficking during his tenure and is a big supporter of Soliven’s book and the “Saving Beverly” campaign.

Domestic violence survivor Maria Aimee Santos-Lyons understands the difficulty of dealing with not just the physical pain of abuse but the mental, as well.

“Community events like this that puts a name to the issue, puts a face to the women who experience this, and then invites people to talk about the issue are absolutely critical in stopping this violence,” said Santos-Lyons.

People at this event say that by the simple act of sharing this book it has sparked dialogue on domestic violence against immigrant women, but they say more than just talking needs to happen. It’s that we as a community need to look past our shame to save more women from abuse.

You can contact Rommel Conclara at for more information.



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  • From Novel to Social Advocacy | Marivi Soliven
    15 June 2015 at 11:23 pm - Reply