A young woman who was reported missing after mysteriously vanishing after a friend's wedding has revealed the truth about what happened — exposing her secret sex profession.
Kimberley Summer Hartley, 20, describes herself as a private girl. For years she never told those closest to her about her X-rated line of work due to the stigma surrounding it.
But ultimately, it all changed on August 31, when she went to work to a brothel 1000km's away from her Gold Coast home after losing her phone, with her lack of contact sparking a nationwide search.
Hartley friends and family feared the worst after they hadn't heard from her in more than a week, having not seen her since a wedding at Mantra Legends Hotel in Surfers Paradise. Her best mate even described Hartley as a social media addict, revealing she would rather starve than not have access to the likes of Facebook or Instagram.
It wasn't until she was found at Desires brothel in Unanderra in New South Wales that the real reason for her disappearance was exposed, she had a secret life as a sex worker.
"I lost my phone at the wedding, but I had to get on a plane straight afterwards anyway because I had to go to work," she told the Daily Mail Australia.
Hartley was going to purchase a new phone, however when the hotel advised it had been handed into reception and would send it out in the post to her.
When she got her phone back however, she discovered she was a missing person — and quickly realised she had to tell the truth about where she had been.
"'I'm not ashamed of telling people I'm a sex worker," the 20-year-old told the publication. "But I'm a pretty private person, and letting the whole world in on my biggest secret scares me."
She explained she began working as a sex worker when she was 18 after a girl she knew went to a brothel and she decided to "check it out". After receiving her first pay packet, she knew there was no going back as she'd previously had "no money and no nothing".
"I now love my job. I love being able to do what I want when I want and having as much freedom as anyone could ask for," Hartley said.
STRUGGLING WITH THE STIGMA
However, she admitted she struggled with the "stigma" surrounding sex work and is forced to "lie to everyone constantly".
"I didn't want 'sex worker'' to be what people see when they look at me," she said.
She said while some people are rude behind her back because of her work, most of her close friends are supportive, adding she "makes the rules" with clients and her boundaries are respected.
The former customer service employee at a fast-food chain, said her distinctive tattoos are one of her unique qualities that she credits to many of her bookings.
"It's about me and my safety, and most brothels and managers understand that," she said.
For her, sex is the easy part, but it's making a connection that can be difficult.
"Imagine the worst customer you have ever had, now imagine having to have sex with them and convince them you like them and want to hang out with them for an hour or more," Hartley told Daily Mail Australia.
She said for this reason she takes breaks from working as it can affect her mental health.
"Being a sex worker has taught me more about sexual health, my body, and men than I could have ever asked for. Before I was a sex worker I didn't really understand sexual health at all."
According to the publication, after a plea from police to find Harley last week, a tip-off led officers to the Desires brothel on Sunday.
Hartley and two other women have been accused of stealing clothing, a safe containing A$7800 and a diamond necklace and earrings after allegedly befriending two people before gaining access to their home.
Hartley was arrested on an outstanding warrant issued at Downing Centre Local Court.
She was granted bail but allegedly failed to show up to her court hearing.
Hartley claims she tried to change the court date, but wasn't aware if it had been processed or not.
Hartley is due to appear in court again on September 23.