(NEW YORK) — 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 that aired Sunday night.
Appearing on the OWN series Oprah’s Next Chapter, Rihanna said, “I have forgiven him,” though she admitted, “I was angry for a long time.”
The singer admitted she is “very, very close friends” with Brown, saying, “We built a trust again and that’s it. We love each other and we probably always will. And that’s not anything that we’re going to try to change, it’s not something that you can shut off if you’ve ever been in love.”
She flatly denied to Winfrey that she is romantically involved with Brown again, but conceded that he “was the love of my life.”
“I think he was the love of my life,” Rihanna 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.”
Though Brown remains a part of her life, Rihanna said it is difficult for her to see him in person.
“My stomach drops and I have to maintain this poker face and not let it get to the outer part of me. I have to maintain that and suppress it and interpret it and understand it and understand that that’s not going to go away,” she said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio