Rihanna Embarrassed by Falling in Love with Chris Brown

11/05/2009 AT 08:05 AM EST

Only after she had a revelation about her duty to her fans did Rihanna realize that she had to speak out about how she was a victim of ex-boyfriend Chris Brown's domestic abuse.

And now? Now she's almost ashamed of herself for having gotten into a relationship with him in the first place.

"I fell in love with this person," she tells Diane Sawyer in an interview that aired on Good Morning America Thursday. "That's embarrassing."

The singer, 21, also hinted that it may have taken "eight or nine attempts" before she could finally leave the relationship.

"It's pretty easy to go back," she says, affirming Sawyer's statement that the average woman makes seven attempts to leave an abusive partner. "You start lying to yourself. The physical wounds go away. You want this thing to go away. This is a memory you don't want to ever have again."

Now a reconciliation is all but impossible – a judge has ordered Brown, 20, not to contact Rihanna (real name: Robin Fenty) for five years as part of his sentence.

Rihanna says she was further humiliated by the public nature of the incident, which included a leaked photo of her battered face.

"I was like, here goes my little bit of privacy," she says.

But she had an epiphany about how her actions after the assault would affect thousands of impressionable girls.

"When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part," she says. "I couldn't be responsible for that. Even if Chris never hit me again, who's to say their boyfriend won't? Who's to say they won't kill these girls? I didn't realize how much of an impact I had on these girls' lives until that happened."

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Need to talk to somebody? Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, 1-866-331-9474.

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