Rihanna Was 'More Concerned' About Chris Brown After 2009 Assault

'As angry as I was ... I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help,' singer tells 'Oprah' in episode airing Sunday.

Rihanna tearfully opens up to Oprah Winfrey about the night that forever changed the course of the conversation around her career. In the interview, set to air Sunday on OWN, Rihanna addresses her feelings about the night Chris Brown assaulted her in 2009.

"I lost my best friend. Everything I knew switched ... switched in a night and I couldn't control that," she says in a clip from "Oprah's Next Chapter" about that Grammy weekend. "So I had to deal with that, and that's not easy for me to understand or interpret. It's not easy to interpret on camera — not with the world watching. So it was hard for me to even pay attention to my mind and figuring things out because now it became a circus."

In the midst of the media circus and the fallout from the assault, Rihanna said Brown's emotional safety was still on her mind.

"I felt protective," she admits. "I felt like, 'The only person they hate right now is him.' It was a weird, confusing space to be in. Because as angry as I was, as angry and hurt and betrayed, I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help, and 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, and I was more concerned about him."

Last week, Oprah released a video where she shared that she expected Rihanna to be a "badass," like the girl she sees in the music videos. Instead, the talk-show host found Rihanna to be down-to-earth: "It wasn't like a big superstar, megastar, pop star had arrived in the neighborhood. It was just run in, as though she had gone to the grocery store and came back."

The episode of "Oprah's Next Chapter" featuring Rihanna airs Sunday; it was filmed earlier this summer in Rih's native Barbados.

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