to have someone over a barrel
An expression I found in Stieg Larsson's phenomenal thriller The Girl who kicked the hornets'_nest - page 140. Volume 3 of the Millennium series 1-3. The Geman meaning is - jemand in der Hand haben. I like to ask myself where the images of idioms come from. In the above example I would think of the military area. I would like to know what images native speakers associate with this expression and of course German speakers as well. I think there are a lot of English expressions having the meaning of German jemand in der Hand haben. Perhaps some of the readers can contribute other expressions with the same meaning.