Rihanna opens up about Chris Brown

Rihanna has spoken out in support of abusive ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. In a frank and occasionally surprising interview with Oprah Winfrey, Rihanna said she felt "protective” of Brown, even after he had assaulted her.

"As angry as I was – as angry and hurt and betrayed," she told Winfrey, "I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help." She spoke in detail about the 2009 incident, and revealed that she was more concerned about what it might mean for Brown than her own safety.

"It became a circus and I felt protective," she said. "Who's gonna help him? Nobody's gonna say he needs help. Everybody's gonna say he's a monster without looking at the source."

Rihanna believes that Brown’s troubled upbringing should have been used in mitigation. He initially denied the assault, but later pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to a year’s probation and domestic violence counselling.

Rihanna told Winfrey that the arrest changed her life overnight. "It was embarrassing, it was humiliating," she said. "It was a weird, confusing space to be in. I lost my best friend. Everything I knew switched, switched in a night, and I couldn't control that."

Rihanna has been criticised for working with Brown subsequently and occasionally being seen partying with him. Earlier this year they worked together on new tracks, and Brown has been welcomed back into the music industry, winning a Grammy for his latest album.

The issue continues to cause problems though. Brown is now embroiled in a lawsuit over a fracas with rapper Drake after an argument about Rihanna.

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