"I'm usually a very guarded person, so having to go in and reach your emotions and personal things to say, it was very vulnerable," the Barbadian beauty, 21, told PEOPLE at Monday night's Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York City.
She said the inspiration for her upcoming album, which will be released Nov. 23, come from "personal experiences mixed with rock and hip-hop."
Since February, when she was beaten by then-boyfriend Chris Brown, Rihanna has had to deal with court proceedings and criticism for taking Brown back. Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault after pictures of her battered face were leaked. After leaving him, she revealed that he had shoved her into a car window, punched her several times in the face, and bit her.
To Be ResponsibleNow, as a victim of domestic violence, Rihanna said it's her responsibility to speak out for other women who've been through the same thing.
"I'm really a woman, a human being," she said. "I go through real situations that women all over the world go through every day. It's great to have the opportunity to be a voice for those women."
While accepting the Women of the Year award on Monday, presented by the model Iman, Rihanna entered the stage and shed a tear, claiming it was PMS, and then happily continued to thank friends, mentor Jay-Z, her mother and grandmother.
And she actually made a joke, ribbing herself for her ivory Stephane Rolland dress. "As usual, I decided do the tightest dress I could find," she said to appreciative laughter.