Since the formation of the 2012 Coalition government, the UK has been subject to 12 years of neoliberal policy enacted with ferocity and vigour. This has comprised austerity measures including the retrenchment of welfare via the reshaping of the welfare state and public services according to business practices, ideals of individual responsibilisation and overwhelmingly, the notion of reducing the state’s ideological and fiscal responsibility for equity and social welfare. The neoliberal state has been conceptualised by Loic Wacquant as a Centaur, boasting a liberal head, yet one atop an authoritarian body whose focus is the designated ‘underclasses’, the socially and economically non-compliant. The Centaur takes away with one hand while ruling punitively with the other, specifically via ‘prisonfare’ and ‘workfare’ to compel submission to precarious and sub-par employment. Although compelling, the Centaur State is justifiably critiqued for its blindness to gender and focus upon the manifestation of neoliberalism in the States. By exploring the stories of 23 women in the UK with histories of survival sex working and problematic drug use, a distinct gendered alternative reality emerges of the operation and machinations of the neoliberal state. Rather than a Centaur, marginalised women experience the Scylla State, a covert, hydra-headed beast motivated by neo-Victorian ideals of ‘womanfare’. The operations of the Scylla State are unpredictable, replicate traumatising interpersonal experiences and variously involve surveillance, coercion, conditionality and the responsibilisation of victimhood to justify increasingly punitive responses to women’s survival strategies in the face of increasing trauma and deprivation.