03/23/2012 at 01:00 PM EDT
Fans have already caught a glimpse of the drama
that is set to unfold in season 4 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey
– most of which is centered around
Now, Giudice is speaking out to PEOPLE exclusively about what went down on – and off – camera.
"I am still saddened by what transpired," she says of shooting the season. "There are a lot of hurtful and shocking moments."
Though Giudice worked on fixing her strained relationship with sister in law Melissa Gorga last season, it is still very much a work in progress, she says. Despite allegations that she tried to expose Gorga's past as a stripper (which Gorga vehemently denies), "Melissa and I are family and we have our ups and downs just like any family," says Giudice. "That is life."
As for her ongoing feuds with former BFF
Jacqueline Laurita and costar Caroline Manzo which come to a head in season 4, "One thing I have noticed is that some people tend to change when the cameras are rolling," says Giudice.
But what of her own behavior?
"I live in the moment and nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and in retrospect there are times where I would have handled a situation differently," says the cookbook author and Celebrity Apprentice contestant
"That said, I live by a strong set of morals and family values and if I am being attacked I will stick up for myself," she continues. "I am a strong woman and it is important for me to defend my character if it is being assassinated. It was a very difficult to go through and especially hurtful when family is involved."
The new season premieres April 22 (10 p.m. ET) on Bravo.