More than a year after Chris Brown pled guilty to assaulting ex-girlfriend Rihanna in February 2009, the 22-year-old singer tells the December issue of Marie Claire UK that she doesn't regret the traumatic experience.
"God has a crazy way of working, and sometimes when stuff happens you feel like, 'What did I do to deserve this?' Why was it backfiring on me?'" she recalls. "But I needed that wake-up call in my life. I needed a turning point, and that's what God was giving to me."
"All this terrible stuff they say to you, it breaks you down," she says. "[But] once you're back on your feet -- if you ever make it back on your feet -- that's the ultimate achievement."
Still, she admits it wasn't easy to break up with Brown, 21, who later pled guilty to a felony and accepted a plea deal that included more than 1,400 hours of community labor in addition to five years probation.
So how did Rihanna finally find the strength to end the toxic relationship?
"I remember I was in New York at the Trump Hotel and I woke up and I just knew I was over it. It was a different day. I felt different. I didn't feel lonely," she recalls. "I felt like I wanted to get up and be in the world. That was a great, great feeling."
And she hasn't looked back since.
"I feel like I smile for real this time. The smiles come from inside, and it exudes in everything I do," she says. "People feel my energy is different. When I smile they can tell that it's pure bliss and not just a cover up."