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Singer Rihanna performs during her concert in Mexico City Nov. 14, 2012.Reuters

Why, Rihanna? Why?

Fans of the singer have been asking this question, ever since she was seen cozying up to her ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown, again late last year. But now, after months of denying reconciliation rumours, Rihanna has confirmed she is back together with her former sweetheart/assaulter – and she has come forth with an explanation, however unpalatable it may be.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Rihanna acknowledged that the rekindled relationship doesn't look good to others. "When you add up the pieces from the outside, it's not the cutest puzzle in the world," she said, but she added, "it's different now."

Brown pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna in 2009. Photos that emerged after the incident showed Rihanna's face bruised and swollen. But Rihanna says she is convinced Brown is "disgusted" by his past behaviour. "He made a mistake and he's paid his dues," she said.

In spite of what it may do to her image, Rihanna told the magazine's contributing editor Josh Eells: "I decided it was more important for me to be happy. I wasn't going to let anybody's opinion get in the way of that. Even if it's a mistake, it's my mistake. After being tormented for so many years, being angry and dark, I'd rather just live my truth and take the backlash. I can handle it."

Many are wondering, however, whether Brown really is a reformed man. Just this week, he was involved in a fight with R&B artist Frank Ocean in a recording studio parking lot. As columnist Sarah Nicole Prickett wrote in The Globe, the altercation did nothing to mend Brown's reputation for being a violence-prone hothead.

One commenter on the Rolling Stone website wrote, "he has hit her once and he has done the same to others since. Nothing has changed about him."

Another added: "It's not a matter of if Chris Brown will raise his hand to her again, it's a matter of when."

But Rihanna insists she has no hesitations about leaving Brown if he makes another misstep. "He doesn't have the luxury of [messing] up again," she told Rolling Stone. "That's just not an option."

One can't help wondering how Rihanna's friends and family feel about her decision to get back together with Brown. It can't be easy watching a loved one return to someone who has abused her.

But according to experts, all friends and family members can really do in such scenarios is listen and try to be understanding.

"If your friend decides to stay, continue to be supportive," advises, a project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. "Your friend may decide to stay in the relationship, or she may leave and then go back many times. It may be hard for you to understand, but people stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. Be supportive, no matter what your friend decides to do."

As some online commenters have pointed out, Rihanna is, after all, entitled to make her own choices. And it is possible for people to change. Let's just hope for Rihanna's sake Brown has.

Does Rihanna's decision to get back together with Chris Brown affect your opinion of her?