IF the past years have taught us anything it is that issues of sexual harassment, assault and violence know no boundaries, not even the often-entrenched lines of political persuasion and party.

Where there is power, there is the potential for that power to be abused, and as our understandings of sexual harassment, abuse and violence have seemingly matured, one would hope that so too would public conversations. Apparently not.

An article in The Herald this week made reference to the trial of Alex Salmond on a number of charges including attempted rape, which Mr Salmond denies.

This article spoke of Conservative party insiders believing there could be ‘benefits’ that might be reaped from the ‘turmoil’. It’s important for us to set out that our organisation is politically neutral, and at this stage it’s not for us to comment on the court case, and it is certainly not our place to lay judgement on the political implications.

However, our neutrality does not extend to a willingness to stand by when the quality of public conversations around sexual crimes is undermined by those motivated by political interest, regardless of what that interest might be.

Though at most opportunities members of all parties will in theory claim to stand up for survivors of sexual violence, too often in practice the reaction to allegations of sexual violence is contingent upon the political allegiance of the accused.

Even outwith the political context the true measure of whether someone is genuine in their concern for victim-survivors is found in how they respond to allegations that are personally troublesome – more than that, sometimes devastating – not those that might in some way suit their agenda.

It is no understatement to say such conversations around sexual violence – particularly where a public figure is involved – have a direct and often profound impact on survivors of sexual harassment, violence and abuse.

Survivors tell us that what they read and hear impacts on their perception of how seriously they will be taken, on whether they may be believed and on whether their experiences will be weaponised and used in contexts beyond their control.

Conversely, when sexual violence is handled sensitively this can encourage survivors to seek support – not necessarily to report to the police – but to know that if they do say those words that they will not be vilified, that they will be heard.

Whether it is at a family meal, in the tearoom at work or on Twitter, there is an opportunity for us all to reflect on how our attitude towards allegations of sexual violence – even when it is someone that we like – might fall on the ears of someone who has survived similar experiences.

Knowing that survivors are looking on, whenever discussions of sexual violence enter a public sphere should impress on commentators just how important it is that they recognise and acknowledge just how high the stakes are.

As an organisation we spend much of our time working to improve health, justice and service responses for sexual crimes.

It would be remiss of us not to then to appeal for considered and informed public conversation, given the undoubted impact this has on all of these matters.

Conversations around sexual crimes will continue at every level. The quality of those conversations depends on whether commentators – from all parties and none – are willing to accept that with power and a platform comes responsibility.