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Fighting a circus?

The real story of Rihanna crying over Chris Brown on Oprah: More than meets the tears?

Oprah Rihanna
In a revealing interview with Oprah, Rihanna opens up about a 2009 domestic dispute with Chris Brown that sent her to the hospital. Courtesy of Oprah Winfrey Network
Oprah Rihanna
The conversation was filmed on location in Barbados, where Rihanna was born in 1988. Courtesy of Oprah Winfrey Network
Chris Brown, Drake Fight Aftermath, June 2012
After a barroom brawl with Drake in June, Brown is facing a $16-million lawsuit for destroying a Manhattan club. Twitter

More than three years after Chris Brown beat her just before the 2009 Grammy Awards, pop singer Rihanna has opened up to Oprah Winfrey in a tearful interview about the widely-publicized incident as well as her continuing friendship with the notoriously short-fused hip hop performer.

In a preview of the conversation — which was taped in Barbados and will air Sunday at 8 p.m. on OWN — Rihanna tells Winfrey that while the altercation was "embarrassing" and "humiliating," she worried about the media demonizing her former boyfriend.

"Who's going to help him?" asks Rihan na during the interview. "Nobody's going to say he needs help. Everybody's going to say he's a monster without looking at the source."

"It became a circus and I felt protective," she explains, hinting at Brown's apparent childhood in an abusive household.

"As angry as I was — as angry hurt and betrayed — I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help. 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."

On Feb. 8, 2009, the couple reportedly began to argue over a text message Rihanna found on Brown's phone from his ex-girlfriend. After attempting to push her from the car, Brown punched Rihanna in the face multiple times, leaving wounds that eventually landed her in the hospital.

Brown's temper made headlines again in March 2011 when he allegedly smashed a window at the Good Morning America studios following an interview during which anchor Robin Roberts asked him about the domestic assault case.

But according to her recent discussion with Oprah, the horrifying bodily attack and media blitz are all bygones for Rihanna, who has since recorded vocals for Brown's "Turn Up The Music" single. The pop singer says she lost her best friend that fateful night and, in the past year, the two have been spotted together on a number of occasions.

Meanwhile, trouble continues to brew for Brown after a Manhattan barroom brawl with rapper Drake over Rihanna, whom both performers have dated. On Wednesday, Brown and Drake were slapped with a $16 million lawsuit for destroying the club.

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