Rihanna Says Fallout from Chris Brown Attack Was "My Liberation"

It”s the old adage: what doesn”t kill you makes you stronger. Rihanna learned it the hard way – at the ripe old age of 20.

“It gave me guns,” the pop star, now 24, says of being beat up in 2009 by Chris Brown in the May issue of Elle. “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.”

The strain of trying to keep her personal troubles private was itself a form of imprisonment, she adds.

“I have more freedom the more people know about me,” she says. “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.”

The Barbados-born singer worked through the flameout with Brown in the only way she knew how – through music; her album, Rated R, was released in November 2009. “I didn”t want to be dishonest,” she says. “I was going through the hardest time of my life. I was angry, sad, confused, torn. I was still in love. 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.”

Rihanna and Brown have actually been collaborating on music again recently. Is that, as some say, too soon

“I respect what other people have to say,” Rihanna says. “The bottom line is that everyone thinks differently. It”s very hard for me to accept, but I get it. 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. Because tomorrow I”m still going to be the same person. I”m still going to do what I want to do.”

Looking ahead, Rihanna says she”d love to have kids – “It could be tomorrow. It could be 20 years from now” – but first, of course, she has to find a man.

“I guess I”m challenging, because my job seems to affect every relationship I have or try to have,” she says. “I just need to find the person who balances me out, because then things like my schedule won”t matter. I”ve done it before, so I know I can do it again.”