Pictures of her bruised face surfaced after the assault in Brown's car.
Asked about becoming "a poster child for victims of domestic abuse", she said she felt forced to relive the "very serious" incident by the media.
She told the magazine: "Well, I just never understood that, like how the victim gets punished over and over. It's in the past, and I don't want to say, 'Get over it,' because it's a very serious thing that is still relevant; it's still real.
"A lot of women, a lot of young girls, are still going through it. A lot of young boys too. It's not a subject to sweep under the rug, so I can't just dismiss it like it wasn't anything, or I don't take it seriously.
"But, for me, and anyone who's been a victim of domestic abuse, nobody wants to even remember it. Nobody even wants to admit it.
"So to talk about it and say it once, much less 200 times, is like… I have to be punished for it? It didn't sit well with me."
Brown was sentenced to five years of probation following the assault. But the pair got back together in 2012, and Rihanna told Vanity Fair she thought she could change him.
"I was that girl who felt that, as much pain as this relationship is, maybe some people are built stronger than others," she said. "Maybe I'm one of those people built to handle [things] like this.
"Maybe I'm the person who's almost the guardian angel to this person, to be there when they're not strong enough, when they're not understanding the world, when they just need someone to encourage them in a positive way and say the right thing.