@Indie, I agree that there is a great deal of risk involved in a D/s relationship. It is highly symbol, archetypal and powerful. When done skillfully, everyone in the relationship grows and benefits. But of course, it can also go very wrong. I've seen this happen. I see people that use it as a crutch to avoid actually growing or learning how to develop relationships. I've seen people jump into it without bothering to build a foundation or even know what they're doing/getting to. This might sound a lot like pharmaceutical commericals...Take this drug! It's awesome!.. Oh and by the way it might fry your kidneys, wither your penis or kill you....
Risk is inherent in many things we do. Driving a car, going rock climbing, operating heavy machinery. Ultimately, we have to decide if the risk is worth it. For some it will be and for others it won't. In D/s there are many ways to reduce your risk greatly.
Be clear on your intentions
Look to grow
Build a good relational foundation
Negotiate as equals
Have the proper experience/knowledge
Don't rush into anything
Stay integrated with the real/outside world and other forms of social support
I would be very slow to enter into any kind of D/s relationship. It's something I may try but if I do, I want to do it as safely as possibly. I think it can be rewarding but you are right to have some reservations about how it is sometimes done. There are a few D/s couples I know that have very unhealthy dynamics. I also know some that seem to do it pretty well. There's a whole spectrum.