As AOL Music reports, it's been three years since Chris Brown infamously assaulted Rihanna on the eve of the 2009 Grammy Awards -- and the duo is still making headlines. Now, in Elle magazine's upcoming May issue, Rihanna finally opens up about her current relationship with her abusive ex-boyfriend following the release of two musical collaborations and speculation that the couple have secretly rekindled their romance.

"I respect what other people have to say. The bottom line is that everyone thinks differently," the Elle cover girl said in reaction to critics' opinions of her connection with Brown. "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."

"I'm still going to do what I want to do," Ri insisted unapologetically. Despite her decision to go public with her as-yet-undefined relationship with Brown, Rihanna insisted the brutal assault of 2009 definitely had a lasting impact on her. "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," Ri admitted.

She channeled her emotions into her 2009 Rated R album. "That was the only way I could get peace, because it was in my head, and I couldn't leave it there."

While the trauma left its scars, the singer says it encouraged her to finally be herself while living in the public eye. "It gave me guns. 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."

And truthfully, Rihanna is happy that her fans and critics alike are aware of her reconciliation with her former abuser. "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."

See Photos of Rihanna's New Black Hair


Watch Rihanna's "You Da One" Video