The status of their relationship has been tensely debated for years since their explosive break-up.

And Rihanna in a candid interview with Oprah Winfrey tonight admitted despite its violent end she still loves ex-boyfriend Chris Brown.

Business24

The 24-year-old singer confirmed to the talk show host in a revealing interview that the pair ARE still ?very close friends? and that despite leaving her battered and bruised in the road after a vicious beating, she ?still loves him.?

And in words that must have felt like a stake through the heart of Brown?s current long-suffering girlfriend Karreuche Tran added: ?We love each other and we probably always will.?

The television special for Oprah: The Next Chapter showed Winfrey describe the fall-out from the horrific night after a pre-Grammy party in 2009.

?I still love him?: Rihanna admits she still has feelings for ex-boyfriend Chris Brown three years after assault

After re-counting the events, a tearful Rihanna, real name Robyn Fenty, opened up about where the pair?s relationship now stands.

Of the incident in 2009, Rihanna conceded: ?It was embarrassing it was humiliating? I lost my best friend,? she said.

But the singer admits since the restraining order was dropped against Brown in February 2011, the pair have been working on their friendship, having seen each other as recently as last month in St Tropez.

?We?ve been working on our friendship again and now we?re very close friends,? she said. ?And that?s not anything we?re going to try to change.?

But she said it?s still difficult to see her ex, because her feelings are conflicting.

?It?s awkward because I still love him.

?My stomach drops and I have to maintain this poker face and not let it get to the outer part of me. I have to maintain it and suppress it,? she explained, adding, ?When you don?t understand those feelings you can make a lot of mistakes.?

Rihanna said the pair are not pursuing anything romantic, noting Brown is in a long-term relationship (with model Karrueche Tran), while she is single.

– Mail Online

Still, the memories of their relationship, she predicted, will linger.

?I think he is the love of my life. He was my first love.?

But she remembers, in part, where it went wrong: ?We were very young and very spontaneous. We were falling in love and going at a really rapid pace. We forgot about ourselves as individuals,? Rihanna explained.

Her words have caused uproar with domestic violence support charities blasting the singer for ?normalising? abuse.

Charities claim the star is sending out a dangerous message, which could stop abused women from coming forward.

Vivienne Hayes, chief executive of the Women?s Resource Centre, told The Independent: ?Rihanna?s case demonstrates the emotional complexities felt by women locked in abusive relationships.?

After falling into what she described as a ?dark place?, reflected in her music, her fashion choices and her attitude, the singer said she was finally able to make peace with the violent end to their romance by rebuilding her relationship with her father, Ronald Fenty.

?I was so angry at him. I was just angry about a lot of things from my childhood. And I couldn?t separate him as a husband from him as my father,? she said, acknowledging he was violent toward her mother, Monica Braithwaite.

RIhanna?s parents split nearly two years before she left Barbados for the states at 16. The singer admitted her father?s ?addiction? tore her family apart; although she did not elaborate on his substance abuse.

Now, after bridging the gap, she says she has moved on from the scandal with Brown that has cast a shadow over her career for the last three years.

Still an island girl from Barbados: Despite her fame, the singer always has time for her fellow countrypeople

?I have to move on,? she said. ?I have forgiven him. It took me a long time. I was angry for a long time.?

But that reconciliation comes with the desire to know her ex has also healed since the fracas.

?I truly love him, so the main thing for me is that he?s at peace? I care. It actually matters [to me] that he finds that peace,? she said.

Prepared for a backlash, she continued: ?I can?t tell people how to feel about it. They?re entitled to feel angry because it wasn?t a good thing that happened. But I have forgiven him.?

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