Aug. 19, 2012 — -- Rihanna has forgiven Chris Brown, the ex-boyfriend who beat her up in a fight three years ago, the singer said in a rare interview with Oprah Winfrey on the media mogul's OWN show "Oprah's Next Chapter."
"I have forgiven him," she said, though she admitted: "I was angry for a long time."
Brown was "the love of my life," the singer told Winfrey, as she started tear up.
"I think he was the love of my life," she said. "He was my first love."
When talking about the domestic abuse inflicted by Brown, Rihanna grew emotional, began to cry and said she felt "protective" of the R&B singer.
"It was a weird, confusing space to be in," Rihanna told Winfrey. "Because as angry as I was, as angry and hurt and betrayed, I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help and who's going to help him? Nobody's going to say he needs help. Everybody's going to say he's a monster without looking at the source, and I was more concerned about him."
The night before the 2009 Grammy Awards, Brown assaulted the singer, leaving the now 24-year-old battered and bruised. Brown was sentenced to five years' probation, community labor and one year of domestic-violence counseling.
"I lost my best friend. Everything I knew switched ... switched in a night and I couldn't control that," the Barbados native told Winfrey. "So I had to deal with that, and that's not easy for me to understand or interpret. It's not easy to interpret on camera. Not with the world watching."
Also in the interview, the singer talked freely about her career, her family, the recent death of her grandmother and the price of fame. Winfrey also went to the singer's old neighborhood in Barbados to gain a better understanding of Rihanna's past.
"I went there with my own ideas about who she was, watching the videos and listening to her music," Winfrey said in the episode's trailer. "I thought she was going to be kind of a badass, kind of a hard edged rocker, pop woman. Nothing could have been further from the truth."