So often, I hear (and have personally experienced) how quietness and tears are misunderstood as vulnerability. But is it? As Autisics, we need a moment. If we are challenged and are unprepared for this interaction, or do not understand the context of the situation or where it has come from, we need a second to breathe. There could be so many learned emotional reactions, such as, panic, guilt, blame, and sadness: all potential trauma responses to a lifetime of being misunderstood due to our straight-talking and justice-lead mindset. However, there will also probably be anger, an appropriate response to being confronted with a situation that provokes an emotional response and processing need. And so that quietness, or flight-flight-freeze-fawn response, are a lot of the time, a repression of anger and/or biting our tongue to ensure we do not come across as 'rude', or 'dramatic', or 'too sensitive', or 'unreasonable', for fear of being rejected or misunderstood. Remember, we feel things deeply and intensely. A treasure, but also a difficulty when the feelings are intensely negative.
And so, my fellow Autistics. Allow yourself a minute. It's okay to walk away when you know you are being mistreated, or you have been put in a situation which feels threatening and difficult to process. You have every right to take a moment to process the interaction and the information thrown at you. Once you have gathered your thoughts and established your feelings, come back to the conversation (if it's safe to).
Remember, just because someone is quiet when challenged, does not mean they are weak or vulnerable. They may be managing the urge to react.