updated 04/05/2012 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/05/2012 AT 10:30 AM ET
It’s the old adage: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Rihanna learned it the hard way – at the ripe old age of 20.
“It gave me guns,” the pop star, now 24, says of being beat up in 2009 by Chris Brown in the May issue of Elle. “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.”
The strain of trying to keep her personal troubles private was itself a form of imprisonment, she adds.
“I have more freedom the more people know about me,” she says. “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.”