between the hammer and the anvil

between the hammer and the anvil

Facing two equally unpleasant, dangerous, or risky alternatives, where the avoidance of one ensures encountering the harm of the other. I was between the hammer and the anvil, for if I didn't take out another loan—and go deeper into debt—I could not pay off the debts I already owed. The police knew with certainty he had drugs in his car, so he became trapped between the hammer and the anvil: either lie to the police, or admit that the drugs belonged to him.
See also: and, anvil, hammer