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Rihanna: Why I'm Still in Contact With Chris Brown

USMagazine, Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 7:21am (PDT)

Why, Rihanna, why?

In the May issue of ELLE, the chart-topping "We Found Love" singer, 24, finally acknowledges -- and sort of explains -- why she's back in contact with ex Chris Brown. Over three years after Brown's violent assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna, the twosome collaborated on two singles -- and have been secretly hooking up for over a year, multiple sources have confirmed to Us Weekly.

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"I respect what other people have to say. The bottom line is that everyone thinks differently," cover girl Rihanna tells ELLE of the furious reactions from fans and critics about reconnecting with Brown, 22, despite their brutal past. "It's very hard for me to accept, but I get it," she says of the criticism. "People end up wasting their time on the blogs or whatever, ranting away, and that's all right. I don't hate them for it."

But Rihanna is standing firm -- and she's not going to apologize. "Because tomorrow I'm still going to be the same person," she says. "I'm still going to do what I want to do."

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Still, Brown's February 2009 attack was a turning point for the star, who is now more popular and successful than ever. "It gave me guns," she says of the trauma. "I was like, well, f***. They know more about me than I want them to know. It's embarrassing. But that was my opening. That was my liberation, my moment of bring it. I wanted people to know who I am. Whatever they take that to be, good or bad, I just want them to know the truth."

Although she's lost a lot of her privacy since then, "I have more freedom the more people know about me," she reasons. "It's like, one less skeleton in the closet, one less burden, one less secret; now you know that, so you can say what you want about it. I don't have anything to hide."

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She famously channelled the pain of the assault and the breakup in her 2010 album Rated R.

"I was going through the hardest time of my life. I was angry, sad, confused, torn. I was still in love," she admitted of the dark record. "And I needed to talk about it. That was the only way I could get peace, because it was in my head, and I couldn't leave it there."

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