The R&B star said she only left Brown after realising that other women could end up dead if they saw her as a role model and stuck with their violent partners.
Nine months after the assault which left her battered and bruised, Rihanna broke her silence in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer.
"I fell in love with that person. That’s embarrassing, that that’s the type of person I fell in love with. So far in love. So unconditional that I went back," the 21-year-old said.
On average, abused women return to their partners eight or nine times before finding the strength to leave, she said.
"And I don’t want that to happen. That’s not what I want to teach people. But again I’m a human being, and people had me on a very unrealistic pedestal and [had] all these expectations. I’m not perfect.
"Also, it’s pretty natural for that to be the first reaction. It’s completely normal to go back. You start lying to yourself. The minute the physical wounds go away you want this thing to go away, this is a memory you don’t want to have ever again."
Speaking of her decision to cut ties with Brown, Rihanna said: "When I realised that my selfish decision for love could result into some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part. I couldn’t be held responsible for telling them: go back.
"Even if Chris never hit me again, who’s to say that their boyfriend won’t, who’s to say that they won’t kill these girls? These are young girls and I just didn’t realise how much of an impact I had on these girls’ lives until that happened.
"It was a wake-up call for me big time, especially when I took myself out of the situation.
"And I will say that to any young girl who is going through domestic violence: don’t react out of love. ‘Eff’ love. Come out of the situation and look at it third person and for what it really is and then make your decision. Because love is blind."
Brown battered Rihanna during an argument in his car on the eve of the Grammy Awards in February. A leaked photograph showed Rihanna’s bruised and bloodied face.
Having the incident made public was difficult to bear, she told Sawyer.
"There are a lot of women who have experienced what I did, but not in public. So it made it really difficult. I just felt, oh my God, here goes my little bit of privacy, just being exposed, that’s something that nobody wants anybody to know. So here I am, the whole world knows."
Even strong women can find themselves victims of domestic violence, she added.
"I am strong. This happened to me. I didn’t cause this. I didn’t do it. This happened to me and it could happen to anybody," she said.
Brown was sentenced to five years’ probation and community labour after pleading guilty to assault.
In an interview timed to coincide with Rihanna’s, Brown told MTV News he wanted to learn from his mistakes and turn the experience "into a positive".