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Who was worse to Sansa Joffrey or Ramsay?

Sansa Stark is one of the central characters in Game of Thrones. As the eldest daughter of House Stark, she is pushed into positions of power through strategic marriages, first to Joffrey Baratheon and later to Ramsay Bolton. Both Joffrey and Ramsay subject Sansa to immense physical and psychological torment. But which husband was truly worse for Sansa?

Joffrey Baratheon’s Abuse of Sansa

Sansa is betrothed to Joffrey Baratheon, heir to the Iron Throne, in season 1. This match seems auspicious at first, but Joffrey’s cruel tendencies soon become apparent. Some examples of Joffrey’s horrific treatment of Sansa include:

  • Forcing her to look at her father Ned Stark’s severed head on a spike after he is executed
  • Ordering his Kingsguard to beat and strip Sansa publicly on multiple occasions
  • Threatening to kill her and make up lies about her treason if she disobeys
  • Forcing her to gaze upon her brother Robb Stark’s dead body with his direwolf’s head sewn on in place of his own

Joffrey torments Sansa psychologically by keeping her in constant fear for her life. His public humiliations of her are degrading and traumatizing. He delights in flaunting his power over her and crushing her spirit.

Ramsay Bolton’s Torture of Sansa

After fleeing King’s Landing, Sansa is forced by Littlefinger to marry Ramsay Bolton, heir to the North. Ramsay subjects her to sadistic and inhumane treatment including:

  • Brutally consummating their marriage through rape on their wedding night
  • Hunting and killing her childhood friend Lady Catelyn in front of her
  • Imprisoning her in her chambers and denying her food or clothing
  • Having her tortured and flayed by his mistress Myranda
  • Forcing her to take a new identity as “Alayne” and pose as his sister

Ramsay employs physical, sexual, and emotional abuse to utterly break Sansa to his will. His twisted games, like when he coerces her to beg him to stop his dogs from attacking, traumatize her.

Key Differences in Their Abuse

While both men are undeniably monstrous to Sansa, some key differences emerge in their motivations and methods:


  • Joffrey derives pleasure from exerting power and inflicting pain.
  • Ramsay aims to dominate Sansa, mind and body, to gain control of the North.

Public vs. Private Torment

  • Joffrey revels in humiliating Sansa publicly.
  • Ramsay abuses Sansa privately, controlling others’ access to her.

Physical Damage

  • Joffrey relies more on emotional trauma and public shame.
  • Ramsay inflicts lasting physical and sexual harm on Sansa.

Weighing the Evidence

Both men treat Sansa in despicable, traumatizing ways. But we can analyze the relative severity through some key questions:

Which abuser caused more long-term physical and psychological damage?

While Joffrey used public beatings and executions to demean Sansa, he did not personally rape or torture her. Ramsay physically and sexually brutalized Sansa in sadistic rituals behind closed doors. His systematic breaking of her spirit and body likely caused more post-traumatic stress.

Which torment was harder to escape from?

As queen, Sansa was always surrounded by people in the royal court at King’s Landing. This gave her some chances to plead for intervention or aid. At Winterfell, Ramsay isolated and imprisoned Sansa in her own ancestral home. His total control of her environment made escape nearly impossible.

Which abuser was she more defenseless against?

As Joffrey’s betrothed, Sansa had some protection of status. Ramsay explicitly stripped away her identity, rights, and autonomy completely as a prisoner in her own home. She was utterly at Ramsay’s mercy with no allies to turn to.

Abuser Motivations Torment Type Physical Damage Psychological Damage Escape Potential
Joffrey Exerting power gives him pleasure Public Moderate Severe Moderate
Ramsay Domination to gain political power Private Severe Extreme Minimal


Analyzing how Joffrey and Ramsay each tormented Sansa makes it clear that Ramsay’s sustained, severe, and inescapable physical, sexual, and psychological abuse inflicted more individual suffering and lasting damage. Sansa survived them both through her resilience and courage. But Ramsay’s comprehensive efforts to dehumanize her ultimately make him Sansa’s worse husband and abuser.