Pippa O’Sullivan, Australia’s best-known sex worker who went by the stage name ‘Grace Bellavue’ has tragically died after a long battle with mental illness.
The outspoken escort, writer and decriminalisation campaigner reportedly took her own life after sharing a message on Facebook on Monday morning.
The status shared insight into her troubled frame of mind and sparked plenty of concern from friends.
Sadly the support fell on deaf ears.
“As you can see, Pip was dealing with issues that in the end overcame her,” mother Lyn O’Sullivan wrote.
Ms O’Sullivan told news.com.au she wanted to remember her daughter as a ‘free spirit’ and literary soul who “had an intimate conversation with life”
“She was the most literate person I knew and understood the human psyche like you would not believe,” Ms O’Sullivan said.
Friends and supporters left messages of grief and sorrow on her Facebook page.
“Pippa was a rock to me in the hardest time of my life, when a lot of my friends couldn’t be bothered with my mess,” Erika Antoinette wrote.
“Why couldn’t someone or something of helped her! I’m just in shock and disbelief, I can’t believe my little cousin is gone,” Sarah Crowley wrote.
Pippa was a strong voice for decriminalisation of sex work, which is illegal in South Australia.
She also took a stand against stigma surrounding the trade.
In 2013 she made headlines when Grace Bellavue became the face of a new trend of escorts marketing themselves on Twitter.
She shared daily insights into her sometimes glamorous, sometimes difficult life and her passion for writing.
“We still have a lot of stigma, judgment and backbiting due to the nature of our profession,” She was quoted as saying.
“But social media has given sex workers a real opportunity to be heard.”
In a first-person piece for MamaMia in 2012, she said she loved her job.
“It is often the moment after sex, even with clients, that I relish the most,” she wrote.
“Once the chase is gone, we are just two human beings constantly fumbling our way within the world and it is then I begin to see the heart of masculinity which touches me most — the vulnerability.”
Her recent struggle with mental illness was detailed in a Facebook post on October 12.
“To all my regulars who have kept me in the black to survive and keep a roof over my head when I’m going through extreme burnout, I can’t express my appreciation,” Pippa wrote.
“I used to hate the white knight syndrome bulls***, but after burning out constantly and 12,000+ guys’ bulls*** physically, you turn into a snappy, violent, aggressive person and somewhere along the line you lose yourself.
“It isn’t the industry per say, it’s just accumulated PTSD and constantly guarding your back or screening ... I’ve had guns put to my head, yelled at too many people, removed people from clubhouses, been approached by lawyers from all sides of the fence, approached to run parlours, watched a lot of people slip and fall in a bath with the their throat slit.”
In 2012, Pippa was violently attacked by a former client, a paroled rapist in an Adelaide apartment.
Her death came as former sex workers launched a campaign for specialised mental health support catered to workers in the industry, and those who have left it.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.